Watched Super 8 last night. And again, I’m thinking about dialogue.
The adults in this movie are pretty easy to tell apart. They have very few group scenes, and they all have very clear goals that they’re working toward.
More interesting to me is the kids. You’ve got four boys who make up a pretty big chunk of the movie, and they’re always together. So what do they do? Each of them has a particular characteristic that gets exploited again and again in dialogue. Every line Cary has is about blowing stuff up. Every line Martin has is about being a wimp. Every line Charles has is about his movie, or bossing someone around. It makes it real easy for us to know who’s talking when, and it gets tons of laughs.
The other thing I kept thinking about: I remember reading an article once where the author talked about how patient James Cameron was in Alien; that it was an hour into the film before we saw a full-fledged battle with the monster, and up until that point it’s mostly people peering around dark corners with the knowledge that the threat is there. This kept on showing up for me in Super 8, because it’s literally about two-thirds of the way through the movie before we see a nonblurry shot of the actual threat. I actually feel like Abrams could have been more subtle throughout this process, foregoing the track-in-and-horrified-scream and just leave us wondering at people’s disappearance, but even so, it was a really strong choice to build up suspense in this way.
Overall, great job mixing suspense with humor. IMDb was afraid that Super 8, like some of the other things Abrams has done, wouldn’t deliver. I think it did. Well worth the watch.