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Super 8

June 11, 2011

Louis Dainard: I saw it. No one believes me!
Joe Lamb: I believe you.

Back in May of 2010, I saw a very inexplicable trailer during the opening day of Iron Man 2. This particular trailer involved a car crashing into a train, which let some type of “thing” out of the train that is associated to Area 51. As soon as I saw “From Writer/Director J.J. Abrams and Producer Steven Spielberg” I knew it would be something exhilarating but I also knew that it would be kept a secret for a while because that is precisely what Abrams did with 2008’s Cloverfield, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Super 8 is yet another great film from Abrams that I’m pleased to say is one of my favorite Spielberg and Abrams film I’ve seen yet that features great effects with solid performances from its young actors, many who are making their debut in this film. In the long run, Super 8 succeeds in finding the human emotion amidst the action and mystery, featuring great performances with insignificant flaws.

Super 8 takes place in the summer of 1979 where a group of friends in a small town in Ohio witness a devastating train crash in the middle of filming their movie (with a super 8 camera, of course). The group of friends soon gain suspicion that the crash was not an accident. Shortly after, disappearances and unusual events start occurring in the town and the town’s deputy attempts to uncover the truth which turns out to be much more terrifying then expected.

While the acting is brilliant and is very pleasurable to watch, a lot of the flaws come from this too. The children in this movie are most likely classified as “cute” or “amazing” and I agree with it, but there are a few scenes, for the most part in the first act, where these scenes with the kids tend to drag on and add unnecessary dialogue. Aside from that, I felt that newcomer Joel Courtney did a really good job portraying the main character Joe and his chemistry with the whole cast and his love interest for Alice (Elle Fanning) was a good side story amidst all of the action and mystery concerned. I feel like I’m just talking about the young cast, and I really ought to mention Kyle Chandler. Chandler plays Deputy Lamb, who is the (widowed) father of Joe and spends most of the film investigating what has been happening ever since the train crash. Chandler gives a great performance that is very believable and entertaining (and I’ve been a fan of his ever since his portrayal of Bruce Baxter in Peter Jackson’s 2005 reboot of King Kong).

Abrams’ direction throughout the film is amazing. He maintains a suspenseful tone even in the light moments toward the beginning of the film (excluding the dinner scene with Charles’ family).  Abrams additionally creates a good sub-plot that includes the shattering and detrimental relationship between Joe and his father. Personally, I thought it was extremely interesting seeing Joe live life on his own because his father has trouble being a parent. I think of it as a great sub-plot because I feel like the writing style is great. Obviously this movie is very Spielbergian (a fake word I just made up) and I think that’s what drew a bunch of people to this film. There has been many comparisons to E.T. and I agree about them (except the monster, that’s pure Abrams). The genuinely exciting narrative, its solid production values, its solid acting contributes to making a great summer movie. 

I would like to reveal nothing more than what the big surprise is which reveals what was on the train, but I am aware that many people have yet to see it, so I will hold back on the spoilers (this time). Without giving anything away, the special effects and the CGI are astoundingly magnificent in this movie, especially the train crash in the beginning, which surprisingly differs from the original trailer and looks incredibly realistic which right away creates a dark and ominous tone for the audience.

While the script and the direction by J.J Abrams, who created classics such as Alias, LOST, and directed the reboot of Star Trek, I can’t help but feel that the movie is pushing itself to become an instant classic, quite similar to E.T. while still standing as an original story. Yes, the film was great. Yes, the acting was fine. Yes, I would recommend it to anyone, but this doesn’t mean I think it has the chance of becoming a classic. I don’t mean to criticize in any way but Super 8 was exactly what I expected: a fun, summer film that I’ll definitely purchase on Blu-Ray but it’s nowhere near a classic. With that said, Super 8 is a fun ride that is packed with great performances and effects that I highly recommend.

Colonel Nelec: If you’re asking me if we have dangerous persons on board this train, I can assure you the answer is no.

Super 8: 4/5

6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 12, 2011 5:14 am

    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 I cared for all of these characters, even that drunk dad that gets arrested in the beginning. Nice Review! Check out mine when you get a chance!

    • June 20, 2011 2:54 pm

      I agree that Abrams knows how to create a different and entertaining summer film with relatable characters, and I also enjoy the fact that the mayhem went hand in hand with the human emotion that made the film worthwhile. Great review too!

  2. June 19, 2011 3:09 pm

    “Super 8 succeeds in finding the human emotion amidst the action and mystery, featuring great performances with insignificant flaws” I concur. Did I mention I am also a sucker for lens flares?

    • June 19, 2011 3:22 pm

      Completely agree with that statement. And that makes two of us for the lens flares.

  3. Amelia permalink
    July 22, 2011 2:41 am

    War of the World meets Goonies meets E.T. Fantastic movie. Great review!

  4. July 11, 2014 1:59 pm

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    really found you by mistake, while I was searching on Google for something else, Regardless I am here now and would just like to say
    kudos for a marvelous post and a all round exciting blog (I also love the theme/design),
    I don’t have time to go through it all at the moment but I have book-marked it and also
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