Super 8: How a Far-Out Premise Stays Rooted in Reality
by Jennifer AlLee
When this summer rolled around, there were two movies I was really looking forward to. One of them is Cowboys and Aliens. The title grabbed me first. Then, when I found out it stars James Bond and Indiana Jones (Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, respectively), I was sold. But it doesn’t come out until early August, so I’ll have to wait.
The other movie is Super 8. It came out in June and I rushed to the theater to see it. Written and directed by J.J. Abrams (of LOST and Alias fame), I expected it to be good. Add Steven Spielberg as a producer, and I expected it to be great. I was not disappointed.
|Steven Spielberg & J.J. Abrams|
I don’t want to spoil any surprises in case you haven’t seen it, but the basic plot of the movie is that over summer break, a group of middle-school students are making a short zombie movie for a film contest. While they are out shooting scenes by the train tracks, they catch an accident, and then weird things start happening in town.
The movie is exciting. It has moments that make you gasp and jump in your seat. And, with Abrams and Spielberg, you can pretty much expect to find an alien in it. It’s a great summer flick. But it also worked on a deeper, emotional level.
How? How does a movie like that suck you in and make you care about all the characters? By starting with something normal. Something heartbreaking. The very first scene is of a steel plant, and the foreman is changing the sign that says how many days they’ve gone without an accident. Now it says “0”. The next scene is of a family gathered together after a funeral, the son sitting sad and alone outside. And we know exactly where we are.
|Super 8 stars: Elle Fanning, |
Riley Griffiths, & Joel Courtney
It’s a master-stroke of great scriptwriting. And it works the same way in novels. When we ground our stories in reality and share emotions that anyone can relate to, we can then take the reader just about anywhere. Whether it’s back through history, smack dab in the middle of modern times, or far into the future, the reader will go on the journey if the emotions are honest and true. It’s something I’m holding onto as I plan out future projects.
How about you? Is there a movie, book, or TV show that you’ll willingly suspend belief for because the characters and their emotions are so real? Or perhaps something with a good plot, but it was ruined for you because nobody acted the way a real person would?
And as a side question… what was your favorite movie this summer?
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