Super 8 – Review
Super 8, directed by J. J. Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg is MINT! (You’ll understand after you watch the movie.) Super 8, listed as #1 in our post “Top ten 2011 SCI-FI movies we can’t wait to see…” was literally exhilarating from beginning to end. Head Exploded. Mind Blown. That is how I felt directly after the movie had ended. For those of you who might have read other posts and reviews that I have written know full well that I am a HUGE J. J. Abrams fangirl but I have to honestly say I am in no way exaggerating when I say that Super 8 was an epically impressive SCI-FI movie (possibly one of the best of the year so far). The movie was a little mix of The Goonies, some E.T., some Cloverfield and it had that unique flair that only Spielberg movies have. This is a movie for the whole family to enjoy!
Without revealing too much, I will give a little background and context for the film. The story revolves around a group of middle school kids in the fictional small town of Lillian, Ohio in 1979. Joel Courtney plays Joe Lamb, a young boy who recently lost his mother and is hard at work helping his friends film a zombie movie for an upcoming festival. When the friends witness a horrifying train wreck, their lives are forever changed. Immediately following the crash, the friends swear secrecy and gather up all their film equipment right before a group of US Air Force officials show up. The town is immediately consumed by government officials who are obviously trying to cover up whatever secrets the train contained. Joe’s father Jackson Lamb, played by actor Kyle Chandler, is thrust as the lead deputy in charge after the Sheriff and several other people in the small town of 12,000 go missing. Strange things start happening; electronic equipment goes missing, dogs are lost and power outages are abundant. This is where it starts.
The plot only thickens when the friends discover that they captured something frightening on film and go out of their way to try to solve the mysteries that have surrounded the town. The young cast of friends that includes Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning as Alice Dainard, Ryan Lee as Cary, Zach Mills as Preston, Riley Griffiths as Charles, and Gabriel Basso as Martin, provide lots of laughs and humorous moments in the film. The movie is intense but at the same time there is a constant comic relief and a strange familiarity, almost nostalgic, that is persistently evident. The film mirrors in some ways the Steven Spielberg movies of the 80s, those classics that you remember watching as a young child. In a way, Super 8 could be seen as a modern day E.T., or the like, because of its similarities in story/plot and characters. The movie’s essence feels like its been done before but if you’re like me, you’ll enjoy the ride. The action in this movie is constant, with explosions happening all over the screen simultaneously. There really aren’t any slow scenes in Super 8 with the exception of the beginning where the movie is being set up and a part in the middle that acts like a brief intermission from all the action. But even in these parts of the film, it is crucial to watch to understand how the character backgrounds are etched and to see how their stories unfold. It is important to mention the great chemistry that is clearly evident between the young cast, especially Fanning and Courtney. The scenes with the two of them are dynamic and enthralling and provide a lot of important character development to the story. In the end, you really feel for these kids, which I think was really Abrams’ goal.
The stellar cast of almost all complete unknowns does a fine job of making this film seem believable and their performances are commendable. Michael Giacchino does a brilliant job with the Original Score of this film and I would be completely lacking in depth if I didn’t at least make mention of him. J.J. Abrams has, of course, found his John Williams in Giacchino. Another thing to mention about this film is the beautiful cinematography that is instantly apparent in just the first few shots of the movie. It gives it more of that old-timey feel, creating a more unique and climatic experience, with lens flares mimicking Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Speaking of climatic… Some of the more raw parts of the film include the monster scenes which build up slowly and gradually and finally come at you head on until you get the full reveal, which I found to be worth the wait. Yes, it is a slow reveal almost somewhat similar to that of Cloverfield but no where near as disappointing in the end. You want monster in Super 8? You get monster!
Super 8 could easily be the closest I’ve ever been to a perfect 5.0 but I was hesitant as there was some aspects of the movie that I felt could have been elaborated on. I loved that the main focus of the movie was on the children and their characters much more than on the monster or explanations about where it had come from. There were some things that I felt could have been better explained, however, it didn’t bother me so much after considering the movie as a whole. In the end, I felt that it wasn’t absolutely necessary to have every single thing answered down to a perfect science. Regardless, I do feel that some people might not like that the SCI-FI part of this film was lacking in answers. In any case, this is one movie I strongly suggest that you do not miss out on. See Super 8 in theaters.
*All photos credit to Paramount Pictures.