“Super 8” brings thrills, laughs, and vivid special effects pegging it as the perfect summer blockbuster for all ages. Directed by J.J. Abrams (“Star Trek”) and produced by Stephen Speilberg, the film can best be described as a hybrid of “ET” and “Cloverfield”.
But this is not to say that the Super 8 is not original. The film, which is not just another Sci- fi flick, is a classic Speilbergian- era throwback to the seventies with a young cast that is fresh, charming, and extremely talented.
The film takes place in small-town Ohio, with main character Joe Lamb (newcomer Joel Courtney) reeling from the loss of his mother after her apparently gruesome death at the steel mill. Joe has an awkward relationship with his father, the town’s deputy sheriff, Jackson (Friday Night Lights Kyle Chandler) who is heartbroken, but keeps a robust appearance as the town’s defender.
To cope with the loss of his mother, Joe decides to make an amateur super 8 movie with his friend Charles (Riley Griffiths) and the rest of their gang (Cary (Lee), Martin (Basso), and Preston (Mills)), in hopes of winning a horror film festival.
One night the group decides to sneak out to the train station, with the help of Joe’s crush and daughter of the town drunk, Alice Dainard (“Somewhere’s” Elle Fanning), so they can film a key scene of the movie.
Everything seems to be running smoothly, and then a pickup truck swerves onto the tracks and derails an oncoming train, causing a jaw-dropping explosion.
Just barely escaping the explosion, the group approaches the driver of the pickup, who they recognize as their middle school science teacher. The professor informs the group that the accident was far from one, as the train contains no ordinary freight. He tells them that if they speak of the incident, the kids and their families will be killed.
Just as they begin to explore the wreckage, the military shows up, and the kids narrowly escape away in the car they are illegally driving.
Hoping their night of mysterious events was some sort of nightmare, Joe wakes up to find his Dad leaving to investigate the derailment. By this time the military has infiltrated the entire town, without telling any of the Soviet-fearing citizens what the nature of the incident was.
One by one town locals begin to disappear, and the gang must search for what the cause of these mysterious circumstances is.
Altogether, Super 8 is an extremely entertaining gem of a film. Courtney has immense talent that is sure to lead him to a variety of roles in the future. His puppy-love, Romeo and Juliet romance with Fanning is so adorable that it will bring the audience to remember their first love.
However the star of Super 8 is truly Elle Fanning, who carries out the emotional scenes of the film and shows she has serious potential to upstage older sister, Dakota.
The special effects and action sequences in the movie are well thought out, but do not define the film. If action scenes are not your forte, you will certainly enjoy the comedic scenes of the film which levitate it above a serious subject matter.
Perhaps the funniest scene is when Joe and the boys accept a ride from the local stoner bringing about the obvious line, “Drugs are sooo bad for you.”
While the film does come to an abrupt ending with some questions left unanswered, it is definitely worth the 10 dollars to see on the big screen. And if you decide to go, make sure to stay for the closing credits where the actual Super 8 flick the boys made is shown.
Super 8. 3.5 out of 4 stars. PG-13.