Last June 10 opened to the Steven Spielberg-produced and J.J. Abrams-directed Sci-Fi pseudo-monster flick Super 8. From the initial trailers, we already assumed that it would be the following: a) a late 1970s period-piece; b) a coming-of-age story for a group of kids and c) a monster movie. What we failed to assume is how wonderfully J.J. Abrams orchestrated these elements to collaborate with one another and creating a very palatable film.
Super8 stars the pre-teen ensemble of Joel Courtney (playing Joe Lamb), Riley Griffin (Charles), Ryan Lee (Cary), Gabriel Basso (Martin) and Ella Fanning (Alice) amidst a supposedly normal 1979 Ohio Summer backdrop. Joel and Charles are enthusiastic young film-makers making summer monster movies (zombie movie in this case) to enter it in an amateur video contest. As typical growing kids are, Joel takes notice of beautiful and talented Alice as she was cast by his best friend, Charles to play the leading lady in their zombie flick. And in any low-budget home movies they had to make the most out of every situation—bringing the whole gang to the train station where everything really starts to go crazy.
During filming of a very poignant scene where Alice shows you her acting capability, a freak train accident occurred on set, making the kids run for their lives. Unknown to them at that time is their Super8 camera (where the title of film was taken) was rolling the whole time of the accident. Shortly after, strange things began to happen in their town: dogs running away to neighboring districts, disappearance of various people, strange destruction of property, and electrical malfunctioning of almost all gadgets. Oh, and the military rolled in and started quarantining everybody.
Super8 may not be the most thrill-ridden summer blockbuster film or the one with known IP name at its core but undoubtedly Super8 makes one intriguing and heartwarming Summer movie. At the heart of it all, Super8 exploits the superb acting prowess of the kids and the brilliant writing in the script.
The balance is undoubtedly good and does not fall prey into the usual Hollywood formula of packing action sequence upon action sequence—ultimately boring audiences. The pacing was efficient in eliciting suspense and drama and the occasional funnies. My only problem with Super8, as with any J.J. Abrams flick, is he builds up the climax really well but resolves the conflict rather too quickly (think in Star Trek and Mission Impossible III). Unlike in E.T., we don’t get to be too involved with the alien, but still this little flick blows up stuff, kills people and creates a mix-bag of suspense and adventure with each twist and turn.
It’s definitely not J.J. Abram’s strongest film to date (for me it will always still be Cloverfield) but overall it’s a definite must-see.
Unbox Rating: 3.5/5
Unbox Tip: Stay when the credits roll. You’ll see the movie the group of kids was making in its entirety! Great stuff, great stuff!