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‘Super 8′: Eight Life Lessons You’ll Take Away


The wait is finally over – after all the casting news, teaser trailers and mysterious hints, "Super 8" arrives in theaters today. The action vehicle delivers all the heart, tension and explosive-laden sequences you’d expect from a J.J. Abrams-helmed, Steven Spielberg-produced flick, but the most potent takeaway is the group of misfit kids at the center of the narrative.

In the vein of "The Goonies," "E.T." and "Stand By Me," "Super 8" catapults us into the lives of small-town youngsters in 1979. All the archetypes are accounted for: the overachieving (overweight) aspiring director, the braces-clad pyromaniac, the vomit-prone worrywart, the awkward-yet-sweet-natured protagonist, the unattainable and alluring popular girl.

Picking up the pieces from familial upheaval and one epic train wreck, the kids will charm their way into your nostalgia-swelled heart – heck, even the movie’s much-mused-about monster can’t overshadow their chemistry. Which is why we’re willing to bet that you’ll find yourself pining for a piece of the clan’s know-how long after the credits roll. So, without further ado, a handy link-laden guide to eight lessons revealed in "Super 8."

1: How to Apply Zombie Make-Up
If central character Joe Lamb’s (Joel Courtney) mad skillz with a brush and paint kit put you in the undead state of mind, check out this helpful guide to creating the perfect putrefying palate. And if you’re having trouble envisioning the decomposing visage, this video should fill in the blanks. Pro tip: arrange a "Walking Dead" marathon, for inspiration.

2: How to Make a Model Train Look Antique
Adorable Joe Lamb may’ve used his explanation of choosing the perfect shade of grey to age his model train in order to woo crush Alice Dainard (Elle Fanning), but – believe it or not – there’s actually an art to it. Pro tip: “train car” should not be used metaphorically in a discussion with a member of the opposite sex (refer to number four).

3: How to Operate a Super 8 Video Camera
Scary to think that there’s a whole generation of kids who don’t even know what a VHS tape is (see also: we’re old), but the "Super 8" crew operates in what we’d consider a decidedly quaint, vintage mindset. We 2011 types don’t even wait an hour for photos to be developed, let alone three days! Regardless, if you want to revel in a little blast from the past, here are the basics to using a Super 8 camera. Pro tip: Kodak’s website delves into further detail, and also offers a list of vendors that supply Super 8 film.

4: How to Make a Girl Like You
Ah, the eternal question. Sonnets have been written, songs have been penned, movies have been scripted – a painter even cut off his ear – in desperate exploration of the subject. And "Super 8"’s naive Joe Lamb isn’t immune to the seemingly unnavigable labyrinth that is his crush on Alice Dainard. Maybe he should’ve studied up first (we wholeheartedly endorse the awesomely bad video embedded at the end of this list). Pro tip: culling pointers from SNL Digital Shorts will only lead to heartbreak.

5: How to Communicate Telepathically
In the spirit of remaining spoiler-free, this is one we’re going to leave to your imagination (ohh, pun!) until you’ve seen the flick. But, hey, there’s actually an exercise guide available! Pro tip: you might want to practice this with your cat before moving on to – ehem – more substantial mental opponents.

6: How to Make Fake Blood
The gloppy, gelatinous scarlet-hued goo gets a key scene in "Super 8"’s trainwreckage, and we found a surprisingly comprehensive guide to creating your own faux-hemoglobin (some versions are even – shiver – edible!) Pro tip: we hereby renounce any responsibility in the event that you’re mistaken for a member of the undead when lesson number one and a palatable version of this pointer are used in conjunction with one another.

7: How to Cry on Cue
Alice wows director Charles (Riley Griffiths) and the rest of "Super 8"’s movie-within-a-movie crew with her ability to serve up an emotional wallop, but – aside from purposefully stubbing your toe on a tripod, how does one muster waterworks on a movie set? There are a few ways to conjure ‘em, apparently. Pro tip: the effects of mastering this art may greatly help – or heed – your chances with number four. Use your newfound powers with discretion!

8: How to Create Lens Flare
We’re getting a little meta here, but this one’s an homage to Abrams’ version of an homage to Spielberg: slapping his trademark lens flare on "Super 8"’s scenery. There’s a helpful guide to siphoning the power of the light-sourced goodness when using a digital camera. And, after the release of Abrams’ similarly lens flared "Star Trek," Trekmovie.com put together this hilariously comprehensive list of post-production lens flare apps and examples. Pro tip: combining this with number three is what "Super 8"’s Charles would consider “production value.”

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