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Super 8 (4K UHD + Digital)

Paramount // PG-13 // May 25, 2021 // Region 0
List Price: $39.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ian Jane | posted June 15, 2021 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

Super 8 opens in February 1979 where a woman named Elizabeth Lamb (Caitriona Balfe) is killed in a tragic accident at the steel mill that is the primary employer of the population of Lillian, Ohio. Louis Dainard (Ron Eldard) shows up at the Lamb house to offer condolences where her husband, Deputy Jackson Lamb (Kyle Chandler), blames Louis her death and leaving him alone to raise their son Joe (Joel Courtney).


Months pass and summer arrives. Joe and his friend Charles (Riley Griffiths) are working on a super 8mm film they hope to enter in a film festival and Joe is excited that Charles recruited Alice Dainard (Elle Fanning) to act in it. Jackson, however, wants Joe to head off to softball camp for the summer. Regardless, Joe heads out to work on the movie with his friends and get their low budget zombie/detective story finished. During the shoot, they witness a train hitting a truck which results in a massive derailment. They poke around the wreckage and find some weird white boxes only to then be threatened by their science teacher, Dr. Woodward (Glynn Turman), one of the passengers who really should not have been able to survive the accident. He pulls a gun on them and has them swear they will not tell anyone what they just saw.


From here, Alice wants out, leading to a confrontation between Joe and her father and Alice changing her mind. Charles is upset that his camera is broken but they soldier on and they decide to use the train wreck as a backdrop, while Jackson investigates the scene hoping to figure out what happened. As these different plot threads start to intertwine, Charles, Joe and Alice start to discover clues that lead them to believe that the train wreck was no accident while some strange events around town lead to disappearances and other weird activity.


Directed by J.J. Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg, Super 8 has both of their marks all over it, mixing elements of films like E.T. and Cloverfield into the picture and while Super 8 may feel like a collaborative greatest hits package from these two storied filmmakers, it delivers pretty much everything you'd hope it would, given their track records. It's a big picture, a spectacle film. It isn't always particularly deep but it is consistently entertaining and a whole lot of fun to watch. The production values are, as you'd guess given the talent involved here, very strong. The effects work is often times quite impressive and the movie is very nicely put together with some great cinematography, a strong score and top-notch editing.


The movie does a solid job with its cast as well. Elle Fanning and Joey Courtney have good chemistry in this picture, we can see why their relationship evolves the way that it does because we have no trouble buying them in their respective roles. Glynn Turman steals a few scenes as the weird science teacher and Kyle Chandler does a fine job as the town sheriff. He has the right demeanor to play a cop and Abrams exploits those qualities in his acting style very effectively.


The UHD

Video:

Super 8 arrives on 4k UHD/Blu-ray combo pack framed at 2.40.1 widescreen. The HEVC / H.265 encoded 2160p transfer features Dolby Vison and HDR10 enhancement and it offers quite a nice, and very substantial, upgrade over the previous Blu-ray edition, also from Paramount. Colors look fantastic here, really putting the past editions to shame in that regard, looking very bold and bright but at the same time still looking very natural. There's also a substantial increase in depth, detail and texture evident throughout pretty much every frame of the picture when compared to the older Blu-ray edition. Skin tones look perfect and black levels are nice and strong. You'll not only notice all the little details in the different locations as well as all sorts of nice texture to the clothing. Background detail is noticeable throughout and there's a lot of appreciable depth to the picture. At the same time, thankfully this always looks nice and filmic, showing no evidence of DNR or edge enhancement, while the healthy bit rate ensures that compression artifacts are never an issue. The picture quality is pretty much flawless here, it looks gorgeous.


Sound:

The main audio option on the disc is an English language Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track, though lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo options are also provided in French and German. Subtitles are offered in English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish and Dutch. The TrueHD track is a very strong one, with plenty of noticeable surround activity present throughout the movie, particularly in the more action intensive sequences but also even in the film's quieter moments. Rear channels are used effectively and frequently throughout the film for everything from score placement to dialogue to effects. Levels are balanced nicely and the track is free of any hiss or distortion, it all sounds very good, reference quality, in fact.


Extras:

There are no new extras here but pretty much everything from the aforementioned BLu-ray release has been ported over to this UHD, starting with and audio commentary featuring director J.J. Abrams, producer Bryan Burk and cinematographer Larry Fong. It's an informative track that sometimes focuses pretty heavily on the technical side of things but if you want the dirt on how this movie was made, you'll get it here, these guys cover a lot of ground.


There are a bunch of featurettes here as well, including the sixteen-minute The Dream Behind Super 8 piece with Abrams explaining his influences and motivations behind making this film. The Search For New Faces is an eighteen-minute bit that covers the casting of the movie while the fifteen-minute Meet Joel Courtney offers some biographical information on the film's star. Rediscovering Steel Town spends eighteen-minute exploring Weirton, West Virginia while The Visitor Lives is a twelve-minute segment that spends some time going over how the creature effects were put together. Scoring Super 8 is a five-minute piece that looks at composer Michael Giacchino's work on the picture. Do You Believe in Magic? is as four-minute piece that lets Larry Fong strut his stuff for a bit. The eight-minute The 8mm Revolution is an interesting history of the Super 8mm film format and Deconstructing The Train Crash allows users to explore one of the film's most impressive scenes and see how it was done.


Also on the disc are thirteen-minutes of Deleted Scenes, menus and chapter selection options. Bundled inside the slick slipcover packaging is an insert with a code that can be redeemed for a digital download of the movie.


Final Thoughts:

Super 8 is a really enjoyable slice of escapism, a popcorn film of the highest order. Paramount's UHD release presents the film in an absolutely gorgeous presentation and while it doesn't offer any new supplements, it does carry over the substantial extra features from the last release. Highly recommended!

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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C O N T E N T

V I D E O

A U D I O

E X T R A S

R E P L A Y

A D V I C E
Highly Recommended

E - M A I L
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