Lens flares. Annoying scattered rays of light that dare to interfere with the lenses of innocent little cameras, often rendering what is recorded undetectable. But in the far reaches of the galaxy, there exists a man; a man unlike any other. A man who has mastered the art of lens flare-ography, in order to incorporate the most exaggerated and colourful lens flares into his motion pictures.
He goes by the name J.J Abrams. And now I will review Super 8, which also has lens flares, courtesy of our aforementioned mastermind.
The story, set in 1979, revolves around a group of children who witness a devastating train crash when filming their own zombie movie. What follows is a series of inexplicable disappearances, attacks and sightings as the children come to realize that the train crash was no accident; and that it has released a menacing presence into their town.
Visually, Super 8 is a very dark film. A large portion of it is set during the nighttime (WITH MANY LENS FLARES), sometimes giving the viewer limited visibility which helps to draw you into the experience, upping the mystery factor so that you end up feeling just as nervous as the characters themselves. It's actually very effective; the alien is rarely shown fully (don't worry, it's not down to stupidly rickety camera movements) so the level of suspense reaches a powerful peak in some scenes, and it provides a sinister atmosphere which compliments the story and themes nicely. A fantastic musical score (composed by Michael Giacchino) also gives life to the film's scenes, escalating the chaos during some of the set pieces, yet also helping to move the temperamental moments at an ideal pace. It's not all great, though; at some points I grew tired of them trying to conceal the appearance of the alien, and felt as if the movie was just trying to annoy me.
The story unfolds nicely as everything progresses. We're left in the dark initially in regards to several character motives and other plot elements, but these are all tied up as we follow the main characters' attempt to figure out the reasoning behind the strange occurrences in their town. It sort of plays out like a mystery tale which the characters must solve, and this is effective in keeping you hooked throughout the course of the story. But after all this tension, build up and eventual explanation, I was really letdown by the ending, which felt extremely anti-climactic. The alien is revealed, but downplayed significantly, misplacing all the tension and intimidation surrounding it; everything just culminates so quickly and in a very unsatisfying manner.
Although I was very skeptical at the prospect of such young actors starring in this movie, I must confess they all did an excellent job. The characters each have their own distinctive personalities (though at times it felt like these were just pulled out of a stereotype hat), their own quirky lines and are all in all very likeable. The only major grudge I had were the moments where every character seemed to be yelling incomprehensible blabber at one another comedically; it's funny at first, but the movie abuses it a bit too much (LIKE LENS FLARES), so it eventually develops into something rather irritating. The alien in the film seems to take a back seat at times in exchange for some character development; this works fine for the most part, as we'll obviously want to learn more about these characters (and we do), but it sort of downplays the whole alien idea; so much so that I sometimes forgot about it.
The style of this film reflects that of many of Spielberg's renowned summer blockbusters, so if you're a fan of those, then Super 8 is worth a watch. A powerful sense of the unknown lies throughout the story, keeping you gripped in regards to how various things will culminate or be revealed. It has its fair share of stupidity, and a weak ending as previously mentioned, but if you're interested (AND LIKE LENS FLARES) then I have no problem with recommending it.