Paramount has remastered J.J. Abrams’ Super 8 for release on Ultra HD Blu-ray. The 4k upgrade celebrates 10 years since the release of the movie in 2011, and features over 2 hours of previously released extras. The combo edition does not package a 1080p Blu-ray copy, but does include a code to redeem a Digital Copy through iTunes, FandangoNow, or Vudu. Paramount also packaged Super 8 in a 10th Anniversary Limited Edition 4k Blu-ray SteelBook (pictured below).
When Super 8 cameras came out in the 60s it opened up a new opportunity for aspiring filmmakers to shoot inexpensively and have the film processed a local photo stores (or developed at home with a kit). Based on the dream of a kid who wants to be the next Alfred Hitchcock or Stanley Kubrick, Super 8 expands the storyline to include a widescale military operation, the one we always fantasized about taking place secretly in our neighborhood. The movie was directed by J.J. Abrams, produced by Steven Spielberg, and stars Joel Courtney, Kyle Chandler, and Elle Fanning. This is a review of the 4k Blu-ray. You can also find a full review of Super 8 from its initial home media release in 2011.
Super 8 on Ultra HD Blu-ray presents HEVC-compressed video in 4k/24p with 10-bit color using the BT.2020 specification for Ultra High Definition. The 4k HDR video bitrate played in the high 90 Mbps range with lows in the 60 Mbps range.
This movie has really deep black levels and rich colors that might remind you at times of a Rembrandt painting. Since a good portion of the movie takes place at night, the imagery often has brightly lit subjects on a dark background in a “chiaroscuro” type of modeling. This is especially true of closeups and mid-chest shots.
The wide shots are also lit in a painterly way. One scene in particular that stands out is when there is a wide shot of the train crash that sets the plot in motion. The filmmakers climb onto an overturned train car at 0:21:20, revealing the depth of the accident that is masterfully lit by cinematographer Larry Fong.
Another wide shot that has got a lot of depth is at 1:28:30 when you see that an entire block has been overturned and on fire from the invaders. It’s a quick riser shot but gives the viewer a sense of the enormity of what is happening in the town.
Of course, all the closeups look incredible in 4k with HDR. The sharpness of eyes, clothing, and makeup (even the fake makeup Joe Lamb puts on Alice Dainard to make her look like a zombie) looks detailed and realistic.
The previous Blu-ray (HD) presentations of Super 8 are flat in comparison to the 4k Blu-ray. That’s mainly because of HDR (allowing 10 bits of color rather than 8-bits), which outperforms with higher contrast ratios, richer blacks, and more saturation of color. There is a noticeable difference in sharpness also, but what really stands out is how Super 8 has maintained pure black values while expresssing a beautiful range of midtones that give this movie a color palette it can claim as its own.
48kHz audio is provided in Dolby TrueHD 7.1 and streamed at about 3-3.5Mbps throughout the film. The fact that Atmos isn’t encoded into Super 8 doesn’t really hurt the audio presentation but may make you wonder how the object-based format could have changed the immersive quality of the movie. Regardless, with 7.1 channels there is plenty of opportunity for audio to be moved around into multiple locations.
It’s no understatement to say the sound effects in this movie hit you like a train, so don’t be surprised to find yourself jumping for the remote to turn down the volume (although usually at that point it’s too late). The scene at the train crash is unbelievably loud and will really test the limits of your speaker system. It lasts a long time too, starting at 0:17:20 with almost a minute and a half of violent collisions and explosions.
When a chunk of the train lands near Joe Lamb at 0:19:07 it’s as if crashing right into your home theater. Later, as the aliens toss large objects into the air the audio mixes almost place the crashes right at your feet.
Smashing glass, breaking doors, and other sound effects are abundant in this film. It must have a been a blast (or a nightmare!) for the audio engineers to mix it all together.
J.J. Abrams’ long-time collaborator Michael Giacchino provides the music composition for Super 8, and it never lets you leave the moment. The composer is known for working on films in the Jurassic Park, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Mission: Impossible, and Star Trek (reboot) franchises.
Subtitles are provided in even more languages than the case insert indicates with English, English SDH, French, Canadian French, Deutch, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, and Dutch.
There is more than 2 hours of previously released bonus material included in this edition, and the best part is you don’t have to remove the 4k Blu-ray disc to watch it! Thankfully, extras are accessible right from the Home screen on the UHD BD. As you would guess, the bonus material is not presented in HD, but provides extensive insight into the making of this film. Commentary from J.J. Abrams, producer Bryan Burk, and cinematographer Larry Fong give you further production notes in a linear fashion along with the fim.
5/5 (included on the BD!)
Read a full review of Super 8 from the first home media release in 2011.