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Super 8

Super 8 TicketAfter a long day in Tallahassee helping Megs get her apartment in some form for a final checkout by the end of the month, I took the young lady out to dinner and a movie. Dinner was a local Mexican restaurant where she got her favorite pulled chicken enchiladas. The movie was "Super 8", J. J. Abram's version of "E. T." for middle schoolers. With a much bigger and angrier alien and lots of Michael Bay-style explosions.

The movie was interesting enough. What was more interesting was watching it with a young woman (Megs) who's spent the last four years studying art, film, and photography (and graduating with high honors).

The biggest conversation was about J. J. Abram's continuing obsession with anamorphic lens flair. Note to J. J. You spent hundreds of millions on two movies and you can't afford decent optics?

There's two cinematographic affectations I can't abide, and they are both loved and adored by J. J. Abrams. The first is shaky-cam, which was abused in 2008's "Cloverfield". He wasn't the first; the reboot of "Battlestar Galactica" used it quite a bit for the external shots of flying spaceships (along with amateur zooming and cheap-style autofocusing). But Cloverfield certainly pushed it to the point of motion sickness.

On J. J. Abrams' reboot of Star Trek, the movie was saturated with anamorphic flair. So much so that he had anamorphic flair added to all the CG shots used in the movie. In "Super 8", it was actually toned down quite a bit. But paradoxically, when it did show up it was far more jarring to the scene than if he'd covered the movie with flair like he did with Star Trek.

Like the end of the movie and the launch of the alien's spacecraft. Or the odd placement at odd times in various scenes. Especially when there was a lot of black areas (night) and you'd see one or two long, horizontal bright blue flair lines.

During the early part of the movie you heard Walter Cronkite's coverage of the Three Mile Island nuclear accident near Harrisburg Pennsylvania. That accident occurred 1 April 1979, so that gives us a pretty concise anchor in time for the film. Which made it two years after the first Star Wars movie (1977). And what should I see in one of the kid's rooms but a model of Darth Vadar's TIE fighter...

It was a comfortably watchable movie. The best part was the kid's zombie movie shown during the ending credits. Romero Industries indeed.


  1. Wow Bill,

    great to hear/read about your daughter's grad - compliments and greetings to her as well. Must be interesting for you to discuss such things with her.

    I don't know much about JJ and haven't seen "Super 8" (yet), but I know that over all those years, I just loved to watch "Lost". Didn't look for moving camera - which I also dislike quite a bit - and/or lens flare, but the story, and holding together that crew for 6 years, oh my. What a great work of art was that IMHO.

    Thanks for posting this.
    And cheers,
    Wolfgang (whose kids are/will be 31, 24, 21, and 7 this year)


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