Published on June 10th, 2011 | by simeon2
Writer/Director/Producer JJ Abramas is one of film and televisions hottest talents. With credits that include Lost, Fringe, Alias, “Mission Impossible 3“, “Cloverfield“, and “Star Trek” on his resume and several projects in the works, Abrams is one of the shining young talents in Hollywood.
For his new film “Super 8” Abrams uses a small Ohio town in the summer of 1979 to set the stage for his tale about a group of friends who while shooting a zombie film project make a discovery that will shake the foundation of their rural community.
Following the tragic death of his mother in a mill accident, Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney), is deep in dispair over his loss. His father deputy Lamb (Kyle Chandler), is focused on his work and with this own grieving that he has no time to bond with his son.
When summer break arrives deputy Lamb thinks that Joe would be better off spedning a few weeks at a baseball camp instead of associating with his friends and making what he believes is a stupid zombie film.
Wishing to stay with his friends, Joe works to help his friend Charles (Riley Griffiths), finish his Super 8 film for a contest by providing the makeup for the film. When the group of friends sneak out one evening to film scenes at a train platform they are thrilled to have a local girl named Alice (Elle Fanning), on board the production. Joe has long had interest in Alice and the fact that she has borrowed her fathers car to drive them despite having her license is a big plus.
The filming is going well when they notice a truck driving into the path of an oncoming train and setting off a spectacular derailment and series of explosions.
When the smoke clears the friends learn that the truck was driven by their high school biology teacher who warns them not to say a word as their lives as well as their families lives will be in danger .
The friends return to town and keep quiet about what they have seen even when the military shows up and is clearly hiding something from the local population. When a series of bizzare events start to unfold it becomes clear that something has escaped from the train wreckage, and it is something that the military will go to any lengths to recover and are not about to let anyone stand in their way.
Caught between the military and a creature on the loose, Joe and his friends must find a way to get to the truth and save their town and friends before its to late.
The film moves at a very steady pace that does not lend itself to an action film. The movie is a character driven film about the youngsters and their coming of age relationships with one another as they are faced with a situation beyond their comprehension.
There is a good amount of humor in the film and the youngcast does very well with one another. I especially liked the character of Cary (Ryan Lee), who is obsesses with explosives and blowing things up. He provided plenety of light moments in the film as did other cast members who brought humanity to their parts with their foibles like having a weak stomach in times of stress.
My biggest issue with the film was that as good as the cast was the pacing was to slow as there was not enough action and suspense to sustain the films premise. The reveal of the creature was fairly matter of fact and lacked any real tension or surprise.
The film also suffered from having the adults in the film for the most part come across as incompetant individuals which forced the children to take action.
While this can be overlooked, I think the film could have used some more action and suspense as well as a tighter transition and pacing to the films final act as it came across as all to familiar with very little in the way of suspense or thrills.
“Super 8” played out as JJ Abrams nostalgic homage to the Steven Spielberg (who produced the film) movies of his childhood which so clearly influenced him. I saw many elements of Spielberg directed or produced classic such as the shadowy authority figures, child heroes, and the sense of wonder and growing up that made such fims as “E.T”, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, “Gremlins” and “The Goonies” such beloved films.
That being said, “Super 8” is a fun and entertaining summer film that is enjoyable if not original. The nostalgic soundtrack and look of the era is captured well and provides for a pleasant summer distraction.
3.5 stars out of 5