J. J. Abrams got us Lost on an island filled with mysterious monsters, creepy scientists and an array of flashbacks and backstories. Even though it got fairly bizarre come the fourth season, the show was still a hit and a demonstration of ‘good television’. So can Abrams pull off a similar stunt with a film involving kids running around with monster make-up, blasting CGI and aliens?

 

The answer is something of a mystery. And it gets us Lost. Again.

 

Despite Spielberg only posing as the producer, his grubby fingerprints are smeared all over the story; a group of kids start out filming an amateur zombie movie (a hint to Spielberg’s childhood memories of shooting his own 8mm films), a devastating train crash follows, something big escapes, all hell breaks loose. The homages to his original works are less than obvious and often all the more dull.

 

That doesn’t necessarily imply that the film is ‘bad’ so to speak. Abrams’ skill as a director and writer are masterful, with leads Kyle Chandler and Elle Fanning capturing the same child-like naivety and sense of wonder present in Spielberg’s original works. The jaw-dropping CG effects of flying train debris and the emergence of the alien create is nothing short of spectacular, framed by a slick and polished style of film (including the beat-up Super 8 film).

 

Super 8’s primary problem however is that it feels like a huge disappointment for something built up to be so ‘spectacular’; trailers and scenes on an early release built up the suspense of the creature in the carriage and the drama that was to follow. Instead, the reality is that Abrams has mashed elements of E.T, Cloverfield and Close Encounters of the Third Kind into a blender and thrown in writing influences from Lost and Alias. The result is Super 8 defying the genre conventions of science fiction, comedy, romance and action.

 

It isn’t terrible, but for something that was touted to be ground-breaking it doesn’t live up to its role that much. I suppose the only thing left to do is watch the stars and hopefully farewell E.T on his homeward journey – assuming that Super 8 hasn’t done so already.