So, Super 8 has whet your appetite for that particular brand of nostalgic Americana known as Spielberg, but you don’t quite know where to start? Well, worry not, dear readers – Here are five Spielberg movies that get right to the heart of JJ Abrams’ latest monster movie that you should add to your Netflix queue right away.
What’s So Super 8 About It? This is where JJ Abrams learned the value of keeping the monster a secret (Although, admittedly, in this case it’s more due to the fake shark looking terrible on screen than any great desire to hook the audience in using their curiosity as the lure).
What’s So Super About It? For all the myth that’s built up around the 1975 classic – or, for that matter, the sequels it spawned, each one progressively worse than what had come before – Jaws is a great movie, tense and human, with wonderful performances from Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and (especially) Robert Shaw that transcend the stereotypes that could have been. Spielberg really brings out the best in the movie, with direction that’s assured and fast-moving, especially compared with similar movies of the time. A classic that more than lives up to its hype.
Close Encounters of The Third Kind
What’s So Super 8 About It? Humanity coming into contact with forces from another world? That would be this one.
What’s So Super About It? I may be shot down by fans, but Close Encounters is an oddly dated film to me, and all the more interesting because of it. There’s definitely some element of it that feels as if it’s an ending of sorts to the spiritual and cultural existential crises that America went through in the late ’60s through the late ’70s, and this movie feels like some kind of great metaphor about growing up into someone you didn’t think you’d be – and the realization of that – as much as straightforward SF. That’s meant as a compliment, in case you couldn’t tell.
What’s So Super 8 About It? Uh… A gang of teenage outcasts finding friendship and community amongst each other, thanks to a common goal (which, at some point, becomes “survival”)? Yeah, I don’t know what these two movies have in common.
What’s So Super About It? I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest fan of The Goonies, nor is it really a Spielberg movie – He produced it, and helped on story, but he didn’t direct it – and yet… Am I the only person who thought that Super 8 sounded like a film nerd version of this movie? And, despite it’s datedness, I have to admit… there really is something weirdly charming about the mini-bro camaraderie on show throughout the whole thing.
E.T. The Extra Terrestrial
What’s So Super 8 About It? Just as Close Encounters brought us man’s first contact with aliens, so does E.T. bring us child’s first contact – as well as evidence that The Man doesn’t have the best of intentions for everyone, when it comes to getting in the way of what they want.
What’s So Super About It? Oh, come on: It’s E.T.. Unless your heart is made of stone, chances are that you’ve already fallen in love with this movie, even if it’s more sentimental than any movie would be able to get away with these days. But that innocence and intense optimism – and the rewarding of same, as Elliot and friends manage to escape the government forces – is genuinely something magical, no matter how cynical you may think you are.
What’s So Super 8 About It? There’s something out there, you can’t reason with it, and chances are, it wants you dead. Aliens, dinosaurs, does it really matter when that whole “It wants you dead” thing is there?
What’s So Super About It? I’m tempted to say that Jurassic Park was the last time Spielberg successfully made a blockbuster that was also good (He’s certainly made good movies since, but there’s something about even War of The Worlds and Minority Report that are… lacking, somehow); it’s also the first time since Jaws that he really made something that was meant to be scary. Again, there’s some hokeyness and sentimentality dragging it down, but the mixture of high concept and smart, fast execution makes this a monster movie that offers both thrills and chills.