The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Paramount - 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 111 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 7.1, French/Spanish/Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Starring: Elle Fanning, Joel Courtney, Ryan Lee, Gabriel Basso, Kyle Chandler, Jessica Tuck, Ron Eldard, Noah Emmerich, Glynn Turman
Written & Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Music by: Michael Giacchino
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: November 22, 2011
J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg join forces in this extraordinary tale of youth, mystery and adventure. Super 8 tells the story of six friends who witness a train wreck while making a super 8 movie, only to discover that something unimaginable escaped during the crash. They soon discover that the only thing more mysterious than what it is, is what it wants.
I didn’t catch Super 8 during its theatrical run but my teenage son did and he really liked it. I am fan of J.J. Abrams work and find that he is quickly establishing himself as a staple among today’s top tier filmmakers. I grew up not only in the Super 8 home movie era but was very close to the age of the kids depicted in the story’s time period. It’s clearly obvious that Super 8 was a project near and dear to Abrams’ heart. The film is an eclectic genre piece with an evocative narrative that is rich in earthy context and wonderfully executed to have the look/feel of imaginatively stirring films of yesteryear. The plotline revolves around a circle of middle school aged friends with an interest in making a Super 8 zombie film. They reside in a small steel town where essentially everyone works at the mill and knows everyone else. The script is made up of a series of subplots, two involving familial dysfunction, that primarily involve the junior filmmakers. While filming their movie in the middle of the night at the local train station the kids witness a train crash/derailment. It is after this that the focus shifts to the mystery surrounding the train crash, its unusual cargo, and a sudden flurry of “classified” military activity that is followed by reports of missing persons, animals and peculiar sightings. The smaller dramatic subplots continue to revolve around the mystery as the kids decide to investigate the strange goings on which are beginning to escalate.
At times it reminded me of Stand by me, E.T, and The outer limits but there is also a wonderfully innate sense of modern era suspense that compliments the throwback science fiction/small town/monster movie concept. The blend works extremely well and makes for a nostalgically rich yet contemporarily executed film. I thoroughly enjoyed the classic take on the building storyline and the wonderfully drawn young characters that carry it. The adults featured in the story are integral but retain a supporting presence that doesn’t interfere with the elements derived from seeing things from a youthful and imaginative perspective. As the story build to its conclusion we have not only established a viable connection to the primary characters but an empathetic understanding of who, what, where and why regarding the mystery that has taken hold of an entire community. Super 8 is a rewarding sci-fi drama that is lots of fun to watch. It features a terrific ensemble of young actors supported by a noteworthy cast of character actors. Writer/director J.J Abrams does a marvelous job bringing this imaginative, evocative and compelling film to the big screen. It is reminiscent of the old school filmmaking of a bygone era that clearly hasn’t lost its appeal. I can’t wait to watch it again.
The rating is for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and some drug use.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Super 8 comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 25 Mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel sound that has an average bitrate of 2.7 Mbps.
This is a reference quality high definition transfer that looks spectacular. Images are crisp with subtle refinement, resolute sharpness and exquisite dimensional perspective. Contrast is well balanced and dynamic which energizes colors and empowers whites/grays. Blacks are rich, noise free and gradational. Detail in uneven light and darkened environments reveals discerning shapes and structure in backgrounds/objects. Colors are appreciably delineated with natural rendering and punchy primaries that stand out among those within the varied range used. Fleshtones are natural with subtle description and warm complexional highlights. Grain is rendered via a light, filmic, textural presence that presides over the presentation without intrusion. I found this to be an impressive and pristine quality high definition video presentation from Paramount.
Having not heard this soundtrack before, I had no idea what it to expect. Listening to it made for an impressive aural experience as this is a superb Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel soundtrack from Paramount. This is a wonderfully involving and dynamically energized sound design that features high level sonic detail, head turning directional correlation and seamless integration of the front and rear soundstages. The mix makes regular use of the surround channels to extend the front soundstage to reproduce the spatial and discrete sounds of this engaging soundtrack. There are sequences where the listening position is submerged in a 360 degree web of sound that is infused with a combination of sound effects/ambience that can be engrossing especially when the action kicks in. The audio’s low frequency effects are applied authoritatively to underscore the bombastic and aggressive aspects of the presentation and it does so quite effectively. Its palpable presence is never in question as it fills the room with refined bass that is appreciably tactile. Dialogue is reproduced with lucid expression and exacting clarity that produced just the slightest hint of sibilance in the upper registers but didn’t warrant a deduction.
Several sequences lit up my room but the train crash absolutely rocks! It comes on quickly and doesn’t last long but it is one of the most intense, all encompassing and seismic surround experiences I have had in my theater room. Smaller less bombastic events, such as the creature assault on the bus/transport and the out of control tank fire sequence are underscored by palpably rich low frequency transients and room traversing sound effects. This is a sophisticated sound design that excels at balancing the opulent blend of sounds/effects contained in the soundtrack. The result is a three dimensional soundscape that seamlessly blends with the events onscreen. Super 8 isn’t an action film however this audio presentation masterfully reproduces every aspect of its soundtrack and makes for a supremely enriching home theater experience.
- Audio commentary by J.J Abrams, Larry Fong, and Bryan Burk
- (HD) Featurettes:
- The dream behind Super 8 – 16 minutes
- The search for new faces – 17 minutes
- Meet Joel Courtney – 14 minutes
- Rediscovering steel town – 18 minutes
- The visitor lives – 12 minutes
- Scoring Super 8 – 5 minutes
- Do you believe in magic? – 4 minutes
- The 8mm revolution – 8 minutes
- Deconstructing the train crash – interactive feature that follows the scene from pre-production, to production, to post production
- (HD) 14 deleted scenes
- Bonus DVD of Super 8
- Digital Copy
Super 8 comes from the mind of writer/director J.J. Abrams and features an eclectic genre mix highlighted by an evocative narrative that is rich in earthy context and wonderfully executed to have the look/feel of imaginatively stirring films of yesteryear. It comes to Blu-ray Disc via a strong technical offering that features reference quality audio/video that is sure to please discerning home theater enthusiasts. The accompanying supplemental package is comprised of a series of production featurettes that contain cast/crew interviews, a look behind the scenes, deleted scenes and an informative audio commentary that are all worth checking out. Super 8 is high level entertainment that shouldn’t be missed. Enjoy!
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS50 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Onkyo PR-SC5508 THX Ultra 2 Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package