Darthlocke's Super - Super 8 Analysis and Spoiler Review!

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Darthlocke's Super - Super 8 Analysis and Spoiler Review!

Postby DarthLocke on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:00 pm

Set in a small town, Lillian, OH, mostly during the summer of 1979 does Super 8 tell several stories of a group of kids filming a zombie movie on a super 8 camera, in which one night they witness a train crash that unleashes some rather scary U.S. Air Force military cargo, which causes havoc and mystery onto the town. The Irony is also that Ohio is birth place of aviation!

The film itself also tells the stories of two of the kids, Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) and Alice (Ella Fanning) who’s new friendship is tested by unresolved relationship between their fathers. The film actually starts at the end of winter four months prior to the rest of the story. Joe sits outside on his swing set dressed in a suit and it soon revealed that many friends had gathered for a wake in Joe’s father’s house, the deputy of the town, who just lost his wife. Alice’s father show’s up at the wake, but is quickly escorted in Jack Lamb’s squad car. The reason behind their fathers’ story unfolds through out the film, as Alice and Joe become better friends and it gets exposed to Alice’s father. It eventually becomes more clear that Alice’s strange anger at times towards Joe, is because she knows the reason why their father’s don’t get along, something that Joe never knew.

The other kids, but more specifically Charles, has a story too. He’s the over weight film creator, whom also reveals affection for Alice, and who seems to almost be an adult already. His approach to film making and to life is rather serious compared to the other siblings in his family, but his parents are one of the first adults in the film that is concerned about Joe and keep telling him he is always welcome in their house. Charles also has this connection to the quirky druggy who works in the film development store, whom ends up playing a role later on, as he wants to date Charlie’s older sister, in which Charles uses her as leverage in order to get a ride back to town after an evacuation is commissioned by the Air Force.

Another story is then also about Joe and his father, Jack Lamb (Kyle Chandler). It appears that Jack and Joe never made a deep connection for most of Joe’s life, as Jack seems more determined to his job and Joe was closer to his mother, Elisabeth Lamb. They never really talked before, but by the films end Jack has a realization that he could loose his son too and that deep down he needs him for his own survival. In addition this story is mirrored through Alice’ relationship with her father, as he has been portrayed as a reckless drunk and often says things he doesn’t really mean and her mother is absent from the film too, suggesting that Alice and Joe both come from families missing their mothers.

In addition the Air force invades the entire town led by one seemingly monstrous man, who will stop at nothing to find the misunderstood creature running a mock.

It’s true that everything you have read and heard about the parodies of great classic Steven Spielberg films are heavily referenced through out the film. -Including Michael Giacchino’s blatant score which sounds like a John William’s medley with the likes of Indiana Jones and E.T. definitely come to mind, but also the film invokes touches of Jurassic Park, Encounters of the Third Kind, Stand by Me, and The Goonies. In addition the score like other Bad Robot works, catering to the time period itself with the likes of 1979 bands The Knack, The Cars, and Blondie (the soundtrack is available for US Amazon pre-order for June 28 release!)

But in the end it really is a Bad Robot/J.J. Abrams film. The difference between the films of Spielberg’s past and the current Abrams are that Bad Robot’s writers tend to tell more complex stories filled with multiple layers of themes, references, and the relationships of several characters are deeply explored in conjunction to some Big mysterious or catastrophic event. Super 8 isn’t just any one of those films, but all of them and some.

Another facet of being a Bad Robot fan is that often times they reference themselves. There are always great parallels in one work that may also show up and manifest in another. Where LOST’s Shepphards and FRINGE’s Bishops come to mind when thinking about Jack, Joe, and Elisabeth Lamb. Jack Shepphard, like Jack Lamb, and even Walter Bishop are characters that for some time in their lives had been dedicated to their cause, but not there for other family members. Jack Shepphard’s story was about his non acceptability for his drunken father, Christian Shepphard, whom because of his alcohol addiction accidentally killed a women who was pregnant, during surgery, as both Jack and Christian Shepphard where doctors, but Jack’s father was the chief of surgery. In both cases the Jacks had a problem with being able to forgive people who they deemed irresponsible. But In LOST Jack is eventually able to gain this in his flash side ways experience, as the creation of his son, David, seemed to be the missing link to help Jack understand , forgive, and accept his father. FRINGE too gives a similar father and son story, but also that Peter looses his mother (really his alternate mother) Elizabeth for unknown reasons until later revealed to him, just like Joe.

Names or words are another one of those things to look out for. Kelvin is one that comes up in almost every Bad Robot work, from Felicity’s dorm being named Kelvin Hall, to Lost character Kelvin “JOE” Innman, to William Bell’s and Blue Walter’s 1970’s company Kelvin Genetics, to Star Trek’s star ship the U.S.S. Kelvin, and the unsuccessful Undercovers had mysterious character played by former LOST alumni Alan Dale, named James Kelvin. In Super 8 Kelvin is name of a gas station-oil company.

In addition in Super 8 there was also restaurant named James Locke. And the final scene in the film also reminded me strongly of Peter Bishop’s conscience time traveling experience, when he woke up on the street in the middle of chaos in a possible 2026 future, as that future also had touches of vintage military. (The Last Sam Weiss/The Day We Died)

What’s more, the alien’s behavior is also something reminiscent of creatures of Fringe (The Night of Desirable Objects/ Unleashed ) and similar sounds of the smoke monster, but the color scheme and camera angle reveals are like the SLUSHO manufactured creature of Cloverfield, but also structurally like the monster on the ice planet in Star Trek. Plus there are also these fire and water themes/motifs that also tend to show up in Bad Robot works..The Air Force sets the fields a blaze and then I don't think I will ever look at my local water tower the same...

There are red licorice sticks reminding me again of Walter Bishop and even Ella. There is scenes in which Jack and Joe parallel each other, as Joe dresses up in Air Force garb next to where the Air Force was actually investigating to help add production value to Charles’s film and then later Jack Lamb after being obtained by Air Force takes on one soldier and disguises himself in the officers uniform which then also mirrors the Others of Lost, more specifically the 18 year old Charles Widmore dressed up in “Jones” 1954 military uniform…and another reference to LOST is that the name of officer’s clothes that Jack Lamb steals is “Wallace” and Wallace, a person we never meet, is # 108 on Jacob’s candidate list!

But even the marketing for Super 8 makes parallels to all things LOST and FRINGE. The day the official trailer came out was the day FRINGE season 3 episode “Os” aired. --It gave a cameo appearance of LOST’s Jorge Garcia who was smoking it up with Walter at Massive Dynamics, as Garcia’s character on FRINGE was a an MD night watchmen. --His character on LOST Hugo Reyes number was 8. 8 in itself also follows Olivia Dunham in some of the earlier episodes, but more curiously is that “Os” plot centered around reverse engineering and father and son story in which a former astro-physics personal used an osmium serum to cause the dense element osmium to levitate in crime. Through out Super 8 the alien also causes dense materials to levitate.

There is also the guy who develops the film and helps the kids out later…he is reminiscent of a Daniel Faraday whom maybe had the mathematical parts of his brain removed by William Bell and started hanging out with Walter Bishop and Charlie Pace. ;)

Joe was not the first Bad Robot character to be seen sitting on his swing set either, a young Charlotte Staple Lewes is found there right before LOST’s 1977 Incident, which Super 8 played homage to the DI videos and Incident as well. --And Peter and Olivia also sit together on the Jacksonville Daycare centers swing set.

Bad Robot also tends to use one classic literary pop culture reference time and time again, Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass. Super 8 is no exception, as the title female character, the blonde long haired Alice, literally goes down ‘the rabbit’ hole…and becomes Joe’s driving force. Subterranean tunnels are nothing new to Lost fans either, as there were several tunnels under the Island, sometimes also called Cerebrus Vents....

One last parallel I can think of is the blatant Super 8 Poster-Promo art which shows the silhouette of the kids on the landscape of the town. Lost Season one and season six promo art posters are done the same way with the characters silhouetted on the Island.

I never had doubt that the kids chosen would be able to pull it off. Many of the kids chosen in other Bad Robot works for flashbacks are usually spot on and add another interesting and believable dimension to the adult versioned characters, or the relationships with their kids. Weather seeing young Sydney Bristow assemble her father’s gun, Or Olivia and Peter sharing a lost intense moment in their lives, or John Locke picking out items that will one day belong to him, or young Spock’s brutal outraged against the other Vulcan children that insulted his mother, or Jacob and MIB running through the jungle, I have always been able to see the adults versions in these kids and there own stories amplified from childhood to adult hood.

On a more personal level Bad Robot has been stocking my life. I grew up all 30 years of my life in Ohio and my mother, whom lived all over the world, had lived in the same town, now city, on and off her life as well. When she was a kid living only 2 streets away from where we live now, she once fell dangerously close to the road and her neighbor, John Locke helped pick her up and get her away from the road. In Felicity there was character from her past, who was going to school in Ohio who came to N.Y.C. to profess his love to her…his favorite things when he was a teen was Punisher comics and Goldfish characters, which were mine too! But then in FRINGE the second set of cortex fan trails took place in Ohio on Ohio State’s Wooster Campus. There is also a cortexifaner with the last name of Becker, which is my last name. But the Super 8 teaser showed us an old brown/tan truck going onto the railroad track with Summit County plates. I live in Summit County with my grandparents house, my parents’ house, and our horse farm being right next to the railroad tracks that are no longer in service. As a teenager I use to walk on them to other parts of the town which also include a very old late 1700’s cemetery. Plus we also have a very old 1970’s tan pick-up truck that we no longer use. Jorge Garcia also played in a show called “Becker”, and in Super 8 there is a salvage company that is either called Becker or Decker (but the first letter can not be seen, as you can only see ECKER). Decker is also the last name of Michelle Forbs LOST character. Oh and my Dalmatian is named Olivia and a horse of ours that recently passed away was named Karma.


All in all the movie had everything a movie goer would want, from great emotional drama stories, to action adventure, with comedy executed at exactly the right times, a mysterious event with a hungry creature. In the end Bad Robot gives these great coming of age stories, but with the philosophies of hope in life that means we can come of age no matter what age we in fact are, because there is always something to discover about ourselves and the world around us.

PS: Looking through screencaps I noticed that Alice father was wearing a ankh necklace.
And during the scenes prior to the crash when Alice recites her lines, she mentions Mackinak Island, which was made famous by the 1980 film, Somewhere in Time (which most likely then was filmed in 1979) -staring Chirstopher Reeves and Jane Seymour is time travel love story between a 1980 playwright and a 1912 actress. -But it's a mint 1979 penny that ruins it all...

Like Super 8, the film was meant to be a 'small film' and not a blockbuster.

Although this movie was well received during its previews, it was widely derided by critics upon release, and it underperformed at the box office. In 2009, in an interview with WGN America, Jane Seymour stated "It was just a little movie...The Blues Brothers came out the same week and it was a $40 million budget, so Universal didn't really support it. There was also an actors strike, so Chris [Reeve] and I weren't allowed to publicise it. And they barely put it out because I don't think anyone really believed in it."


More things I didn't catch:

Amanda Foremen (Felicity, Alias, What About Brian, and Cameo in Star Trek) is channel 14 news anchor Lydia Conners

Bruce Greenwood (Captain Pike in Star Trek) is man named Cooper (which might be related to the Cooper in Rocket Poppeteers)

Michael Giacchino was Debuty Crawford.
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Yet for all their evolution, they form no bonds.
Love does not exist for them. They are incapable of dreaming,
Of contemplating beauty, Of knowing something greater than themselves.
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