Even the poster cries 'nostalgia!!!!!'
... So declared the poster for Oliver Stone's 1986 masterpiece 'Platoon'.
And how true when it comes to this year's summer blockbuster 'Super 8'. Before I continue, I must state that I loved 'Super 8'. I had issues with certain aspects, but on the whole I loved it. Which says a lot in this day and age: Its an increasing rare occurrence these days when I buy a DVD of a recent release. I'm mostly buying 80's movies - possibly as its a nice, comforting, melancholy trip down memory lane; revisiting my youth etc.
But the same can be said about 'Super 8'. The best thing about it was the feeling of nostalgia. Not in the sense of, say, 'Stand By Me' (with lots of 1950's music etc.), but a nostalgia for cinema itself, and the rare sense of wonder that movies can produce. But I suspect director J.J. Abrams may have been attempting to emulate the 'magic' of Spielberg's early films - in particular 'E.T.' and 'Close Encounters Of The Third Kind'.
|Super 8: Still better than Mini DV.|
J.J. Abrams: "‘Super 8′ came out of two separate ideas. One was an idea of doing a film about kids making super 8 movies in the late 70’s, early 80’s. And the other one was an idea of a monster movie that I’d had. One was a group of characters I had loved, but without a story that I thought would compel people to go and see it. And the other was a compelling premise but with no original characters. So I kind of combined the two and found that they serviced each other in a cool way."
For those who haven't seen 'Super 8', I won't go into spoilers - its a film best viewed with little pre-viewing information.
For those who have seen it: Upon reflection, I'm left wondering if 'Super 8' needed the 'mystery thing'-element. Was the film good enough on its own i.e. the kids making a movie. Sure, its a summer event movie, and without the 'mystery thing', it wouldn't be an action/adventure/sci-fi movie. And while it was great watching all the explosions and effects, I felt the audience was missing out on the characters: The interaction between the kids was pretty much jettisoned when the aforementioned 'thing' entered the story; to the point where the kids ran around together as this unified clump: There was precious little room for the individual.
|The kid in the yellow coat is now running Hollywood...|
So why am I saying 'Its the blockbuster film of 2011'?
Its fair to say that 2011 has not been a great year for big movies. With the exception of 'Thor', the blockbuster season has been awash with 'okay' movies - but nothing outstanding. 'Captain America' was fun yet undemanding: A superhero movie which doesn't know what to do with a hero who has nothing particularly unique about him. 'Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes': Great FX, but cardboard characters and a distinct lack of any 'Planet' of so-called Apes. (Taking over a bridge does not count.)
Without its setting, backstory and characters, 'Super 8' would have easily fallen into 'just okay'. But its the emotional core that speaks to us and sticks with us long after the FX have dated. So lets have more of that, please...