Super 8 – 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Super 8

Although Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) was the listed director of Poltergeist, it was Spielberg who was calling all the shots. It makes so much sense since Poltergeist fits with Spielberg’s style than it does with Tobe Hooper’s. Twenty-nine years later, and history strikes again as Spielberg’s producing influence is all over Super 8. It feels more like a Spielberg film than it does with anything that J.J. Abrams has made up to that point in his career.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Abrams is not shy about talking about Spielberg’s influence on him and his script. Hence, Super 8 takes this successful formula and reproduces it to a successful degree. Comparisons to other films are almost unavoidable because Super 8 feels like an updated version of E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Not to mention, Abrams chose so many other films to imitate. Films such as Stand by MeJaws, and War of the Worlds immediately come to mind. Generally speaking, you won’t find much originality here because of Super 8‘s many influences. Most upsettingly, Super 8 feels like a film set in the Cloverfield universe, but it’s not. From the creature’s design to its slow reveal, it plays out similar to Abrams’ previous production. 

Amazingly, this is Joel Courtney’s first film, and he impresses as the film’s central character. Out of all the kids, he seems the most at ease and the most natural in his role. Similarly, Elle Fanning also does well with her role, creating Alice as a solid presence for Joel and the film. Sadly, the rest of the kids are less impressive as they give one-note performances that never feel lived-in or natural.

Overall, Super 8 may not be groundbreaking cinema, but there’s no question that the film pleased a broad audience based on its nostalgia alone. After all these years, Super 8 is effective as an homage to friendship, family, and cinema. Those who grew up on Spielberg classics may complain about the attempt to imitate Spielberg, but a Spielberg impersonation is still better than most hit films.

Movie Rating: 3.5/5 atoms

Super 8 - Riley Griffiths, Joel Courtney, Gabriel Basso, Zach Mills, and Elle Fanning

Video

Super 8 hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with an HDR transfer and a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The lights and Abrams’ infamous lens flares are a vibrant white, especially in the nighttime scenes. The blacks in this video presentation are a lighter shade of black with a bluish tint to them. At the same time, there are seemingly lots of shadow details lost in this release. So it doesn’t matter if it’s a nighttime or daytime scene; there will be many solid blacks in the shadows.

Since the film primarily takes place at night, there isn’t much to see in terms of the color palette. Still, the colors are clean and rich-looking. There’s a lot of debris, destruction, and minute details in the film. Although you might not see all of it because of the deep blacks, the visible ones are sharp. The film grain is a filmic and noticeable texture. Despite some issues with the black levels, the video presentation is excellent.

Video Rating: 4/5 atoms

Super 8 - Kyle Chandler

Audio

Super 8 hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a 7.1 Dolby TrueHD Master Audio track. Sadly, we do not get a new Dolby Atmos mix for this 10th-anniversary release. Instead, we get the same audio mix from the 2011 Blu-ray release. The sound effects in this mix boom with authority; you can especially hear this during the train crash scene. Not to mention, the accuracy of the sounds adds a level of immersion to scenes. There aren’t many atmospheric effects in this mix. However, when they happen, they have a mellow sound to them. Michael Giacchino’s score has a rich and pure sound throughout. Unfortunately, the dialogue, at times, is drowned out in the sonorous chaos of the action sequences. Otherwise, it’s audible. The subwoofer comes alive whenever the creature shows itself. Every footstep it takes rumbles throughout the soundstage. Overall, this is an exceptional mix.

Audio Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

Super 8 - Kyle Chandler, Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning, and Ron Eldard

Special Features

Super 8‘s Ultra HD Blu-ray disc has the following special features on the UHD Blu-ray disc:

  • Commentary by J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, and Larry Fong
  • Featurettes
    • The Dream Behind Super 8
    • The Search for New Faces
    • Meet Joel Courtney
    • Rediscovering Steel Town
    • The Visitor Lives
    • Scoring Super 8
    • Do You Believe in Magic?
    • The 8 MM Revolution
  • Deconstructing the Train Crash
  • Deleted Scenes
    • Inside the 7-Eleven
    • Joe Writes New Pages
    • Joe Gives Charles New Pages
    • Jack Searches the Gas Station
    • Inside the Car Dealership
    • Joe Gets in Trouble
    • Lucy Goes Missing
    • Dry Brush Technique
    • Army Navy Store
    • Joe Watches Home Movies
    • Saying Goodnight
    • Cubes Shake the Red Trucks
    • Jack Finds Joe’s Backpack
    • Joe and Cary Discover the Coffins

Although the 10th-anniversary release doesn’t have any new features, the legacy features from the 2011 release is still amazing. The feature commentary contains a lot of trivia about the film. Director J.J. Abrams divulges a lot of information about the production work done on the film. Also, it’s funny that the three of them decided to ask Spielberg why he doesn’t do feature commentary at all. Unfortunately, we don’t get an answer sent to them in time.

The legacy featurettes are diverse and in-depth, and thankfully, engaging. With “Dream Behind Super 8,” J.J. Abrams discusses his childhood love of filmmaking, which eventually leads to Super 8’s central concept. At the same time, you’ll get to see some of the 8 MM films that Abrams, Larry Fong, and Bryan Burk made as kids. “New Faces” highlights the relatively unknown cast of child actors. In the same fashion, “Meet Joel Courtney” is practically an extension of “New Faces.” However, it focuses on Super 8 being Courtney’s first film. “Steel Town” delves into the location and story behind the city.

“Visitor Lives” is an entire featurette covering the development of the film’s creature. As one can see in “Scoring Super 8,” Michael Giacchino talks about his background and film contributions. As mentioned several times in the audio commentary, “Believe in Magic” features cinematographer Larry Fong entertaining the cast and crew with his impressive skills as a magician. Truly, Fong is a multifaceted kind of guy. “8 MM Revolution” covers the history of the Kodak Super 8 film and its influence on the filmmakers growing up.

“Deconstructing” is a well-designed, informative, and interactive “self-guided trip from script to screen.” It’s designed after a train map and includes three main lines: Pre-production, production, and post-production. Afterward, you’re going to pick a train line, get on board a train, and then select a car to reveal behind-the-scene clips, images, and interviews regarding the train crash scene. There is a ton of material to go through, so be sure to get comfortable and stretch out those thumb muscles. They’ll be working overtime here.

Finally, there are 14 deleted scenes. Most of these scenes are subtle character moments or scene extensions. Other than Joe’s script contributions and watching home movies, none of these scenes should’ve been in the theatrical cut.

Special Features Rating: 4/5 atoms


Overall, Super 8 is a compelling love letter to Spielberg and his classic films in the 70s and 80s. Unfortunately, the UHD presentation falls short of Paramount’s other release, which is a bit disappointing. However, the Dolby TrueHD mix from 2011 is still stellar despite the lack of Atmos in this release. Similarly, the legacy bonus features are still super despite the lack of retrospective features.

Overall Rating: 4/5 atoms

Super 8 hits stores on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray on May 25th.

This Blu-ray was reviewed using a retail/advance copy/unit provided by Paramount Home Entertainment.

Facebook Comments

About author

Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1652 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.

View all posts by this author →