Thursday, November 17, 2011

Super 8 - Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray/DVD Release Date: November, 22 2011

I absolutely love this movie to death. No other movie this year or even the past few years has gotten me in touch with my inner child quite like J.J. Abrams Super 8 has. It has taken some time for me to realize not everyone will ever love it as much as I do but let's be honest here, if you don't at least appreciate it for what it is then you are most likely dead inside. As for the blu-ray, well beyond winning the award for worst cover art of the year it actually comes pretty stuffed with some nice extras. Go ahead and skip on down below if you wanna see what is in store for you and if you still need some convincing on whether or not to see the movie itself then I highly suggest you check out my spoiler-free review for it as well.

Review Vital Stats:
Format: Blu-ray
Player: LG Model 370 
Monitor: Samsung 40' LCD Series 5
Picture Quality: 1080p
Sound Quality: True HD - English

Excerpt from the original theatrical review:

There was something magical about those Steven Spielberg films during the late 70's early 80's. The director had a way of capturing the discovery and wonder of an event that transcended our ordinary lives. The stories themselves were never anything particularly groundbreaking, it was always about how the story was presented and the characters he populated his films with that drew us in. That was an era in filmmaking where we got some truly amazing films from the legendary director that not even he has been able to recapture in his later years. Then comes along J.J. Abrams, a man that is clearly talented when it comes to sitting in that directors chair but also a man that has a deep yearning for those Spielberg classics such as Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Poltergeist, The Goonies, Gremlins and of course E.T. With Super 8 he set out to not so much replicate those films, but harness the same sort excitement and awe they instilled into movie goers all those years ago and remind us why we go to the movies.

Read the full review here.

These kids get pretty banged up over the course of the film.

And don't forget to check out our full discussion and review of the film upon its theatrical release on The LRA Show. You can find that episode at the following link:


What's on the disc?

This is a tough one for me to criticize one way or another. On the one hand it has just about all the features I needed out of it but on the other, these features are the bare minimum of what I was expecting. I am sure there was plenty other topics to cover than what is presented here (where is the feature discussing Steven Spielberg's involvement?). The audio commentary is informative but leaves much to be desired (how about getting the kids together for a commentary as well?). Overall it is a pretty hefty amount of features that cover just about all the aspects on the production of the film you could want but I can't help but feel like something else is missing.


Elle Fanning shows her sister how it's done.

Audio Commentary - This is a commentary from director J.J. Abrams, director of photography Larry Fong and producer Bryan Burk. The trio are comfortable enough around each other and offer up some nice little nuggets of information but unfortunately they suffer from what I call too-focused-on-one-thing-itis. This problem only ever occurs on animated films where they constantly go on about who animated what ad nausea, but Abrams goes on and on about where each shot was done and how far apart certain shots from the same scene were done. I understand that it is really cool that close ups on one character was shot in West Virgina and their coverage for the same scene was shot in Los Angeles but do we really need to know that information FOR EVERY SCENE IN THE MOVIE!? I am only annoyed by that because I bet there were some more interested things to cover for certain scenes instead of where they were shot. Also I would like to point out that even though these guys seem to be really great friends they all sound very reserved and borderline catatonic at times...very strange. The one bright spot though is their solution to getting Steven Spielberg involved in their commentary (something the legendary director/producer has sworn never to do). It's definitely a good listen but not a necessary one unfortunately.

Featurettes - HD - Here is the real meat of this disc. Each of these features cover just about everything you might want to know about how the film was made and how everyone and everything came together on it. There are a couple features in here that seemed to be put in here more for fun but overall this is a great collection of features regardless.

- The Dream Behind Super 8 (16:28 min) HD - Ever wonder when the first time J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg met? How about the inspiration for the film as well as Spielberg's influences? This feature answers those questions and many more. I think the most astounding thing revealed is how Abrams first met Spielberg and how both men shared a common child hood fascination with filming their own home movies. Great stuff.

- The Search for New Faces (17:46 min) HD - Out of all the features here this was the one I was most looking for to. I was so impressed by every single kid they got to play in the film that I was genuinely interested to know where they all came from and how they got their parts. About the only thing missing is the fact that Spielberg helped Abrams and company settle on certain kids which is never mentioned once here. This is also the very first behind the scenes feature to ever hit me emotionally, Elle Fanning's goodbye to the crew at the end kind of got to me.

- Meet Joel Courtney (14:35 min) HD - This is your typical "A Day in the Life of..." feature. Instead of following a person that is well aclimated to life on a film set it was interesting to see it through the eyes of this kid who was pretty honest about how he felt being part of and the star of such a huge production. His youthful innocence shines through on more than one occasion with his story about how Abrams locked him and Elle Fanning in a room together so they would get to know one another as well as seeing him run through his lines with his mother at the hotel.

- Rediscovering Steel Town (18:24 min) HD - Honestly I am never really that fascinated by these kinds of features where they talk about the location the film was shot at but I actually got into this one. We get a lot of history for the town of Weirton, WV and get to hear from a lot of the local residents themselves about what all the town has been through. I will definitely look at the fictional town of Lillian in a whole new fashion after this.

- The Visitor Lives (12:22 min) HD - Probably my least favorite aspect of the entire movie, the creature design. I don't think the design is bad really but more or less kind of typical in a very middle of the road kind of way. If there is one thing I don't think will stand the test of time in the film it is the creature itself but this feature shows us all the amount of work that went into its design over a year long period.

- Scoring Super 8 (5:29 min) HD - Michael Giacchino is the new John Williams...there, I said it. His soundtracks have been getting progressively better and his score for Super 8 is both familiar and beautifully refreshing at the same time. We get some small snippets of watching him piece together the score as well as a couple insights into his process as well.

- Do You Believe In Magic? (4:29 min) HD - Director of photography Larry Fong shows off his magic tricks for the cast and crew (as well as Tom Cruise?) of Super 8. Seriously, this guy is good and kind of freaky. Not really much to do with the movie but still pretty damn entertaining.

- The 8mm Revolution (8:15 min) HD - Apparently just about everyone that worked on Super 8 had at one point in their life made a home movie on super 8mm film and that is what this feature covers. It goes over their history with the format as well as giving some technical information on it as well.

Deconstructing the Train Crash - HD - This was a big let down for me personally. If there is one thing I can't stand when it comes to special features for a movie, it's when they are presented as an interactive experience. I mean do I really need to select each individual train car on each individual track to watch over a couple dozen different 2 minutes or less interviews about the train crash sequence? Just give it to me in one feature, let me hit play and then just sit back and enjoy. If you like interactive bullshit like this then I suppose you might like it otherwise it is just a complete waste of time.

Their gonna need a bigger bus.

Deleted Scenes - HD - This collection of over 14 individual scenes might lead to you believe there was a lot cut out of the film but you would be mistaken. Most of these scenes comprise of extended versions of scenes that already exist in the movie or are very quick scenes where someone explains something that we figure out on our own while watching the movie or just don't care about. But if you have questions about some things in the film then these will most likely answer them for you.

- Inside the 7-Eleven (:48 min) HD - Extended scene that takes place inside the 7-Eleven just after school is let out for the summer and Charles tells Joe that Alice is part of the film now.

- Joe Writes New Pages (:48 min) HD - Extended scene with Joe in the bathtub just after the train crash where he gets inspired and starts writing new scenes for their movie.

- Joe Gives Charles the New Pages (1:54 min) HD - Extended scene at Charles's house where Joe gives Charles the new pages as they watch the news on the television.

- Jack Searches the Gas Station (:29 min) HD - A very brief scene with Jack looking inside the gas station for clues before going outside.

- Inside the Car Dealership (:26 min) HD - Another very brief and inconsequential scene with Jack talking with the dealership owner inside the office.

- Joe Gets In Trouble (:48 min) HD - An extended scene with the kids at the diner where Jack comes and pulls him out while telling him to not hang around Alice anymore.

- Lucy Goes Missing (:48 min) HD - A few scenes that lead up to a sequence of events where Joe realizes that his dog is missing.

- Dry Brush Technique (1:33 min) HD - Extended scene with Joe and Alice in Joe's room where he explains in great detail how he paints his model trains.

- Army Navy Store (:58 min) HD - Ever wonder where Joe got his army costume for the movie? Well here is your answer.

- Joe Watches Home Movies (:42 min) HD - Just before the power goes out and Alice shows up, Joe watches his home movies by himself.

- Saying Goodnight (: min) HD - This is the one and only scene out of all of these I wish was still in the movie. Not because it is necessary but I liked that we got a scene between Joe and Alice saying goodbye just before she goes missing. Plus it explains that they were getting ready to tell Joe's dad about everything.

- Cubes Shake the Red Trucks (:52 min) HD - This was kind of neat but ultimately unnecessary. We get to see all the cubes go crazy inside the trucks just before we see Colonel Nelic discover whose tire tracks those were at the scene of the crash (which explains why he was looking for them at the school later).

- Jack Finds Joe's Backpack (:24 min) HD - Jack arrives at the bus crash site and finds Joe's backpack but no Joe.

- Joe & Cary Discover the Coffins (:42 min) HD - This scene is kind of baffling in both its deletion and its brevity. I like the idea of the kids running into coffins (they were walking under a graveyard after all) but in this clip they seem to brush by only a couple coffins and that's it. Very strange.


Even in the 70's things blow up real good.

Final Verdict:

Without a doubt this is my favorite movie of the year. It has action, suspense, great characters, great music and it is all gift wrapped in a style of filmmaking that has all but disappeared anymore. If you are a fan of all those Spielberg classics then you owe it to yourself to see this movie and if you haven't then you owe it to yourself to see this and those other films that helped influence it. In other words you have no reason to not watch Super 8. I can't say for certain that you will love it as much as I do but at the very least I think you will be entertained by it. The blu-ray offers the best possible picture and audio you could ask for and there are just enough extras that will help give you some much needed insight into how and why the film was made. I cannot recommend this blu-ray enough, go get it now!

Movie   -  A+
Video   -  A
Audio   -  A
Extras  -  A-




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