J.’s Short Movie Reviews: Super 8 (2011)

Super 8

Super 8, the latest from J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg, is a thoroughly entertaining and engrossing summer film.

I will try and keep this as spoiler free as possible but it’s hard to describe my experience with this without giving some of it away. So, if you intend on seeing this and going in totally detail free (as I know some of you prefer to do), stop reading now and come back when you’ve seen it because I do recommend this film.

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Okay. If you are here I assume you want to be.

Super 8 is about a lot things: it’s a sci-fi conspiracy theory fantasy; it’s a coming of age adventure story about kids; it’s a story about family, relationships, and what “home” really is. It’s all of these elements wrapped in a well-paced, well-balanced, very fun movie experience. These kids – all friends on summer break from middle school – spend their free time trying to make a movie using their super 8 camera to enter in an amateur film festival. One night while filming, they witness a terrible train accident and then all sorts of odd things begin happening around the town. The rest of the film is a roller coaster ride as we watch the military move in, take over the town, the local deputy sheriff (who is the father of a lead kid character) scrambles to maintain order and find answers while the kids slowly learn what exactly has been let loose on their town and ultimately try to survive it.

This film is very much an homage by Abrams to the “Spielberg formula” many of us grew up with: focus on the kids’ lives, give the adults real resonance, don’t show the monster until the third act, you know the drill. And I will tell you, it works on all those levels, particularly the story which Abrams also wrote. I was an hour into this film and realized I still didn’t know what was happening and I didn’t care. I was so bought in to the characters that I didn’t care I hadn’t “figured it out” by that point. The cast plays it so well from child to adult – particularly Joel Courntey as Joe who had never acted before this film, Elle Fanning as Alice and Kyle Chandler as Jack Lamb, Joe’s dad and the deputy.

The special effects are well-done, the sound is incredible, and the story will engage you and keep you on the edge of your seat for the full 1:52 runtime. This is what a summer movie should be: funny, touching, and a boat load of fun.

Rating: XL PopcornXL Popcorn – There are some fun films this summer and some potentially good but if you see nothing else in a theater, see this movie. And hang around for the credits. You will not be disappointed. Until next time, thanks for reading.

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