Super 8 is more than just super, it's great!!
Even though I am visiting family in Cincinnati I still made it to the theaters last night to check out the new movie Super 8.
It is set in 1979 and centers around five middle-school aged boys in Lillian, Ohio who sneak out at night to film a zombie film they are going to enter in a film festival. One night they add a female cast member and escape a terrifying train wreck that unleashes an unknown terror into the local area. Attacks and disappearances soon follow and the film crew find themselves way over their heads in a government scandal that affects the whole town. It all boils down to an ending that is both thrilling and full of wonder.
Walking into the theater I was skeptical. How is J.J. Abrams going to pull off the wonder and awe that Spielberg pulled off in ET, which I gathered from advertising is what Super 8 is paying some homage to?
To my surprise he put together a film that was at times magical and other times it was down right thrilling. Not to the point of being scary but there were times that it certainly made you jump to the edge of you seat and stay there. For a movie that focused mainly on its younger cast members, the acting was incredibly top-notch. When together they remind of a group of kids in a popular 1985 film which Spielberg also had a hand in as the one of the writers and producers, The Goonies! Huge props go to Elle Fanning, Dakota's younger sister, who in many scenes was most certainly the center of attention as Alice Dainard and handled it superbly.
Kyle Chandler who plays Jackson Lamb, father to one of the boys and also deputy sheriff, plays the role of beleagured cop very well but I wish more of the conflict between him and his son, Josh Lamb(played by Joel Courtney), would have fleshed out. Josh Lamb starts out as the meek, mild boy trying to overcome the loss of his mother, which is the opening moment of the movie. Throughout the film he gains more confidence and eventually leads his friends through many dangerous situations as he realizes how harsh the world is and comes to grips with it much quicker than his schoolmates.
The whole film is very well paced and you can sense the urgency growing with each passing scene, at times with a glimpse of the creature that has been released and at other times with tension between two characters as tight as a high-wire.
The town of Lillian definitely had that 1980 vibe, which in today's era must have been very hard to do with how prevalent technology is in our world culture. The special effects really made some of the most exciting moments of the film just jaw-dropping.
The train-wreck was full of sounds and images that are vividly stuck in my mind this following day. The entity that was inside this train is designed to envoke both fear and with the right mindset, awe. It is a wonderful example of how far film has come and a look into the amazing mind that is J.J. Abrams. For all the scenes involving the monster, one of my first thoughts was that this is how Matt Reeves should have handled Cloverfield.
If someone asked me to explain this film to them in one sentence, my reply would be "It's Goonies meets Cloverfield!". It envokes both the feeling of adventure and wonder from the eyes of a child and also has you gripping your seats at other moments wondering what is going to happen next. It is a film that you can take the family to and everyone will enjoy.