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Review: Super 8

Posted on June 10, 2011 by

After a massive viral/hype campaign, mostly propagated by the major film blogs going insane over every little detail, Super 8 is finally out in theaters and it’s not the second coming that people were making it out to be but it is a fantastic and fun movie that’s a nice throwback and a great change of pace from the explosion filled summer blockbusters that have already come out or will come out.

*Spoilers below*

Super 8 follows young Joe Lamb as he and his friends help their friend Charles make a movie to enter into a film festival but when they are filming a night scene at the local train station, they witness a horrific accident as the local teacher deliberately runs his pickup truck into an oncoming train.  The Air Force arrives the next morning and acts shadily as they cart off some weird cubes that seem to have scattered out of the train and seem to be searching the town for something.  Weird things start happening in town and the kids are drawn into finding out what is going on.

JJ Abrams brings his usual visual flair and his great sense of suspense and slowly revealing what is going on.  Just like in a very close cousin of this movie, Cloverfield, the “creature” of Super 8 is slowly revealed a little at time until you finally see the whole thing.  The creature design is a little underwhelming, as it’s very similiar to the Cloverfield monster except it’s more spider or crab like.  There are some great, tense sequences where the creature attacks some of the locals of the town.  The way alien story is resolved, however, is pretty underwhelming and happens a little to quickly.  The whole ending of the movie seems to wrap itself up a little to nicely and I think they wanted to have more emotional payoff instead of a plot payoff, similar possibly to Lost.

On the Steven Spielberg side of things, he seems to have contributed his sense of casting great kid actors because the entire crew of kids in Super 8 are fantastic.  Relative newcomer Joel Courtney brings to mind Sean Astin from The Goonies with his optimism and his determination to save the day.  Elle Fanning is great as well as Alice, who the guys recruit into the movie to be the wife of the main character.  The rest of the kids are great for comedic relief, especially pyromaniac Cary.  The wonderfulness of the kids is on full display during the credits, when you get to see their movie in full and it’s hilarious and actually well done. The adult actors are not quite as well rounded as the kids, as they fall into some typical stereotypes like the alcoholic dad, the seemingly uncaring dad and the evil military guy.

Super 8 doesn’t have a ton of action but it does feature one of the most spectacular train wrecks I have ever seen in a movie.  I don’t know how the kids are able to survive the destruction as there is literally entire train cars that are raining down from the sky, things are exploding everywhere, metal is twisting, it is amazing.  Nothing else in the movie is that spectacular, effects wise, but there are lots of little things that look great, like cars and electronics mysteriously floating through the air and the alien tossing things around.  Another great thing about the movie is the soundtrack, which features some fantastic late 70’s/early 80’s pop rock like Blondie, ELO and The Cars.

Forget all the hype, viral bullshit, etc. and you’ll find that Super 8 is a great mix of the Abrams and Spielberg styles that is a welcome change of pace from the frantic, explosion filled superhero and action movies that we’ll see for the rest of the summer.  The end of the movie doesn’t fully payoff and the creature design is a little lazy but the kids are great and it’s got a great mix of suspense and sweetness.  If you’re a fan of either of the directors involved, I would say it’s definitely worth checking out.

4 out of 5

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