Director/Writer: J.J.Abrams (Star Trek, "Lost")
Starring: Kyle Chandler ("Friday Night Lights"), Elle Fanning (Somewhere), Joel Courtney, Ron Eldard (Sleepers)
When you think of your standard summer popcorn flick what do you think of? Huge explosions in a Michael Bay movie? Comic book adaptions like X-Men or Spider-Man? A terrible Will Smith movie? A terrible sequel to one of last summer's biggest hits? Unfortunately, summer movies lately have gotten to a point where they don't mean terrific amazing movies. Brainless fun or just down right stupid movies. Super 8 is a summer movie of the classic sense. The basic idea that a small town is shaken by unknown force. A movie that has fun characters that seem real and flawed that are just trying find out what is going on to save each other.
Jackson Lamb (Chandler) has recently had to bury his wife. He is the sherriff of the small town of Lillian, OH. He is feeling the stress of being the sheriff and being a single parent to his son, Joe (Courtney). Joe spends his free time with his five friends making zombie movies on Super 8 film. The kids sneak out very late one night to go film a scene outside a railroad station. They need to time it perfectly to get the passing train in the shot. When the train starts to pass by, Joe notices a white pick-up truck drive onto the tracks causing the train to crash into it. The kids have survived and try to make sense of what just happened. Amongst the rubble are hundreds of little white cubes that resemble Rubik's cubes. They make their way over to the white van to notice that the driver is barely alive and he is also their science teacher, Dr. Woodward. Dr. Woodward warns them not talk about what they saw.
The town of Lillian is in uproar. Dogs are disappearing, appliances go missing, people are being abducted, and the Air Force is taking over the town. As sheriff, Jackson is being hounded to have all of the answers to what is going on. Joe and his friends are the only witnesses to the crash. As they try to finish the movie they are working on, they realize that their camera caught all of the crash on film. After their friend Alice (Fanning) goes missing, the gang risk their lives trying to rescue her.
I could go on and write more including additional characters that are pivotal to the plot or describe what that train was carrying, but I don't want to give anything more away about the movie. The less you know about it, the better. The suspense is greater if you find out what is happening at the rate the characters do. Abram's screenplay is fun and suspenseful, and he knows how to write for both the adult characters and the children. The kids don't sound any more intelligent than your average pre-teen does. They bicker, joke around, and curse. The special effects are top-notch when they are used. They don't look like CGI cut and paste images. The scenery and attention to detail for the 1979 look is fun to relish at as well.
J.J. Abrams would have been 13 in 1979. That's a little bit older than the kids in the movie, but you can feel a real autobiographical feel for the movie. You feel like he's living out his childhood times of making low-budget movies in his backyard. Steven Spielberg is one of the main producers of the main. Even though it's a J.J. Abrams movie, you can't help but think about all of Spielberg's classics that might have influenced him. I would say that Super 8 is a mix of four different movies: E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Stand By Me, and The Goonies.
My hope is that this movie is the runaway hit of the summer. Word of mouth will catch on and people will flock to it. I'd be super excited if it came around again for Oscar season.
Rating: ***** (5 out of 5 stars)