“Struggles, Surviving, and Moving On” – An analysis of J.J. Abram’s Super 8


There are times in our lives where we get stuck up on the bad things that have happened in the past. People get so messed-up, unfocused, and unhappy because they hold on too much on the things that have hurt them.

Super 8 is an American-science fiction adventure film directed by J.J. Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg 2011. The nature of the film are pure Spielberg;  where a child is left by one of his parents and he will be in some sort of adventure and that they are more aware of what’s happening around them than of the adults. Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney), Cary (Ryan Lee), Charles Kaznyk (Kyle Chandler), Martin (Gabriel Basso), and Preston (Zach Mills) who were filming a low-budget movie about Zombies for an local film competition using a “Super 8” camera. Joe’s best friend Charles, decided to put Alice Dainard on the movie to play as Martin’s wife.

Everything was doing fine until one night, while they were filming Martin and Alice’s scene on the railroad, Joe saw a pick-up truck driving on the train’s way, causing a massive destruction and explosion. After the incident, they found tons of strange white cubes scattered all over the place. When they approached the pick-up truck, they discovered that the driver of the pick-up truck was Dr. Woodward, their biology teacher. He warned all of them to forget about what have happened and not talk about it anymore because if not, they will get killed – including their families. The next day, a group of U.S. Air Force lead by Col. Nelec was in the set of the incident piling up the white cubes into the large boxes.

While Joe and his friends are filming their movie flick, turmoil is arising all over the town. People are complaining about the sudden missing of their dogs, some parts of their cars, even some other people are to be found nowhere, including the Sheriff. With all the strange things that have been happening, Deputy Jack is doing his best to get in contact with Col. Nelec about this matter. But he could not get single information from them. It was later on that they’ve discovered that it was a huge alien that’s been responsible on all the strange things that’s been happening and all it wants even a long time ago is to go back home, but the soldiers won’t let him that’s why he created such turmoil.

The Super 8 is not as superb as other adventure movies. Though Abrams used an E.T. on the movie, it was not as threatening as others. And like other Spielberg’s movies, themes are always on family orientation. He constantly reminds the audience about family orientation through his movies. Super 8 talks about struggles, surviving, and moving-on to live. Struggle that every households are experiencing; losing one of their members or going through some tough situations. The death of Joe’s mother created boundaries between Joe and his father.  Usual situation of a family; the father goes to work, and the mother left at home taking care of her children. This is why a lot of times, when it’s already the mother’s turn to go away, it’s a full adjustment both for the children and the father.

Surviving after a family lost one of the family members. Joe and his dad after his mother’s death were civil to each other – they talk about important things, but none of the more-interesting things. Although it should be the father to reach out to his son because clearly, he should be the stronger person at the current situation – but turns out different. Between him and Joe, he seems to be the more-affected of the tragedy that had happened because being a police officer, it hurts to know that he can protect the whole town, but he cannot do the same for his family. And like them, the E.T. is also facing struggles because he is in a situation were being alone is all he can feel. Captivated by the people here on earth, he is clearly not happy at all. That’s why he keeps on searching for solutions on how he can get rid of his situation – because he does not only want to survive, he wants to live.

Moving-on. Everyone in the movie was keeping pains in their hearts. Joe and his father mourn for the death of the most important person of their lives, Alice and his father has certain issues with each other. It’s all a father and child relationship. Joe has shown giving too much importance of his locket, because it signifies his mother. Even at risky situations, he has never given up of his locket. Though he has never cried on the whole movie for his mother’s death, how he kept his locket says it all.  At the last scene where all the steels was being magnet and his locket being the last one left, though he tried his best to keep it, having his father on his side, he finally let goes of the locket. After letting go of his locket, both of he and Alice has shown being reunited with their fathers. It shows that Joe’s letting go of the locket also means choosing to let go of the pains he has and choosing to move on and live. And like them, the E.T. also has chosen to live. And just like a mother’s eyes, he looked straight on Joe and his eyes were as caring and as innocent as it is with a mother.

The E.T. in the “Super 8” was not as dangerous as the E.T’s shown in other movies. He is more of a metaphor of a man being destroyed inside because of the bad things that have happened. His captivity has kept him broken for a long time. He wanted to go home, to be freed. But they just won’t let him to. Because of this, his heart has grown in anger and hatred. When a person is locked up in desperation, tragedy, or sadness, he will not be the same person again. Even if he does outside, he will always be broken inside unless he has given the opportunity to start a new beginning.

Although problems arose in the movie, one thing can be perceived; “family will always be a family.” After all the struggles that the main characters had with their fathers, at the end of the movie, they were still there looking after their children – doing everything to save them.

This movie has also shown the potential of young people in creating as good movies as it is in the big screen. Lack of budget, they can improvise materials or scenes just like what the kids did on the movie. And the probability of enhancing their skills and talents should not be barred, because who knows? They can be the future film-makers of the country. But they should not go above the line. As it was seen clearly, too much stubbornness leads to disaster.

Every family undergo in a situation like Joe and Alice’s did in the “Super 8”, and Abrams has left a message for both parents and children. That is, to constantly keep in line with each other, to communicate with each other. And even in the toughest situation, Abrams showed that a person has the choice to let go and move on. And just like Joe said, “Bad things happen, but you can still live.“


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