Super 8: Movie Review

Last week, as I was making my way through the Zombie Serengeti (aka The Walmarts) in search of Big DVD Game, I managed to bag a copy of J.J. Abram’s and Steven Spielberg’s movie Super 8.

I can’t believe I actually didn’t get around to seeing it until last night!

(Super 8 movie poster)

I just want to say right off the top that Super 8 was AMAZING!! It was like stepping into a time machine and travelling back to the early 80’s. Back to before blockbuster movie trilogies were all filmed at the same time.  Heck, back to before there even was such a thing as blockbuster movie trilogies. Back to when you waited years for the next Steven Spielberg or George Lucas movie to hit the big screen.

OK… OK… take a breath. Focus. Oy, I am SO pumped after watching this movie, you’ve no idea!

OK, here’s the deal, (as per the Super 8 official site)…

In the summer of 1979, a group of friends in a small Ohio town witness a catastrophic train crash [1] while making a super 8 movie and soon suspect that it was not an accident. Shortly after, unusual disappearances and inexplicable events begin to take place in town, and the local Deputy tries to uncover the truth – something more terrifying than any of them could have imagined.

Mayhem ensues when the ‘something more terrifying’ turns out to be a space alien, and a seriously nasty one, that was being transported as part of the train cargo. It makes its escape after the crash, the military tries to cover it up and, bit by bit, the kids figure out what is what. Think of those American suburban kids in E.T… only the initials for the space alien stand for Extra-Terrifying. By the way… the four young boys do a heck of a job, screaming like little girls and running around trying not to get killed! Only kids can be so scared so loudly! It’s a riot.

(Joel Courtney and Elle Fanning)

Super 8 is cast largely with never seen before actors. [2]  Most of the movie’s real magic (outside of the CGI special effects) comes from the films two young stars, Joel Courtney (Joe) and Elle Fanning (Alice). It is such a joy to watch the two of them interact. Simply wonderful.  In the words of one critic, “Abrams remembers the simple rule that a majority of his contemporaries have forgotten: action and mayhem have meaning only when an audience cares about the people trapped within the maelstrom.” And you do genuinely care about these kids and their budding relationship.

As for the space alien, for most of the first half of the movie, you just get blurred images of it in the background or reflections of it. Watching it tear open a bus as if it was a Xmas present, you get to see more and more of it, especially the fact that has many arms (legs?) and a singularly unattractive face with large nasty teeth. Oh, and another thing… it is unbelievably ticked off! I think I’ll just leave it at that, for now.

(Super 8 DVD cover)

My two cents… This movie, to my mind, is classic late-70’s early-80’s Spielberg… vintage ‘ET – Jaws – Close Encounters – Goonies – Raiders of the Lost Ark’ Spielberg all rolled into one. One critic called it, “the most authentic Spielberg film Spielberg never directed!”

For older people, you can relive the times when great classic movies forged your love for science fiction and good storytelling. For younger people, I have a feeling that in 25 years, you’ll want to show your kids this movie!

The bottom line… If you loved films from the days before blockbuster meant cookie-cutter franchise movies, treat yourself and watch Super 8. It will transport you back to the not-too-distant past when film giants like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas cared about making extraordinary movies for ordinary people!

Two classic 80’s middle-school kids’ thumbs WAY up!

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[1] Oh, and by the way… In this case, ‘catastrophic train crash’ is actually an understatement. Less than 20 minutes into Super 8, you witness what is perhaps the most incredible, unbelievable, eye-popping, jaw-dropping, heart-stopping train wreck in movie history. That 90-second scene alone is worth the price!

[2] The only one I really recognized was Jessica Tuck (who played the Nan Flanagan character in True Blood) as the mom of Charles the movie-maker kid. Joe’s dad Jackson, the Deputy (played by Kyle Chandler), also looked very familiar but I couldn’t place him without resorting to the IMDb site.

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