Super 8 Review

Having been born in 1975, most of my formative years happened in the 1980s. This is lucky for me as Hollywood was experiencing a new Renaissance with up and coming directors like George Lucas, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and Steven Spielberg. Each of these directors has produced films that have inspired people for the past three decades. It seems that one of the people inspired by these films, especially those of Mr. Spielberg, is J.J. Abrams. That’s right, the producer of Lost, Fringe; director of Mission Impossible 3 and the Star Trek re-boot, is an avid fan of “the beard”. So, with his new movie Super 8, we are treated to an homage to the great Spielberg and are taken back in time to remember how it felt thirty years ago to witness a Spielberg film for the first time.
The premise of the story follows a group of friends, avid film buffs themselves, as they are making their own film. During the filming of one of their scenes, they witness a train derailment by an oncoming car that not only destroys the train but lets loose a creature onto an unsuspecting town. Having seen this crash with their own eyes, the kids try to find out more about what happened, why it happened and what did the train free when it was destroyed. Pretty basic story line here, but the way it is told is in such a way that I was on the edge of my seat trying to solve the mystery along with the kids and being shocked, scared and excited right along with them. I love that even after the wreck happens, the kids continue making their movie as the Army invades their town and a monster runs loose killing people in its way. Nothing will stop the kids from their film and the situation gives them the perfect backdrop for their film making it look like a bigger production than it really is. Be sure to stay for the credits and you’ll be treated to their finished film.
The Spielberg influence is felt throughout this movie. I was reminded of E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Goonies, Stand by Me and Raiders of the Lost Ark. That’s not to say that this film doesn’t have its own voice, but I really felt like a kid again sitting in a dark theater next to my mom watching E.T. and being stunned by the power of film. Like that film, what works best in this film, besides the direction, is the cast of kids they found. I’ve heard that most of them are so new to acting that this is their first movie. I never would have been able to tell this had I not read it recently. This story is ultimately about them, their friendship, their love of movies and their coming of age. The stand outs include Joel Courtney and Riley Griffiths. They play the lead boy and his best friend respectively and they shine in every scene they are in. The biggest props should go to Mr. Abrams himself. He has written and directed a film that helps to cement him as part of the new regime of up and coming directors for the 21st century. With each scenes he helps to slowly unravel the mystery surrounding the crash and creature from the train, but through the eyes of 12 year olds who themselves are looking through a lens. I almost felt like I was a part of the movie or involved with the kids film as they were filming it. It is such a unique idea that I’m surprised it hasn’t been thought of before and if it has, I need to see that movie.
I truly enjoyed this movie experience and greatly appreciated all of the nostalgic memories it helped bring back. It’s movies like this that help to remind us of the power of film and its influence on our lives and memories. I’m sure everyone can tell about an experience they’ve had while watching a movie and being taken back to another time and place. I mean, that’s the point of movies , right? To help take us away from everyday life and make us feel like kids once more. Congratulations J.J.!! I think Mr. Spielberg will be proud!!!

J.Chandler: Grade: B+

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