Movie review for “Super 8”

Starring: Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning, and Kyle Chandler
Directed by: J. J. Abrams
Rated: PG-13

After producing and directing a slew of hit TV shows and blockbuster movies, J. J. Abrams has served up his latest dish, Super 8; a character driven, sci-fi action flick that is reminiscent ofclassics like “Stand by Me” and “E.T.”

The movie takes place during the summer of 1979; Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) is helping his friends make a zombie movie to enter into a competition. While filming a scene late one night, they witness a horrific train wreck. Soon afterwards, bizarre things begin to happen around their small town: unexplainable disappearances of electronics, pets, and eventually people. The group of friends set out to discover the truth behind the train wreck and eerie events surrounding it.

Super 8 is a fun, charming tribute to classic 70s and 80s films that so many of us grew up watching. Abrams has an uncanny ability to create likable, funny characters that you care
about. I loved the underlying tension throughout the story that surrounded the death of Jackson Lamb’s (Kyle Chandler) wife.

On the flip side, I feel like the alien aspect of this film was severely underdeveloped and was so obviously a plot device, it stuck out like a sore thumb. With so much hype surrounding the mysterious monster, I felt underwhelmed once it was finally revealed (although there was good suspense leading up to that point). As a consequence, the movie was never scary and I didn’t feel concerned for any 0f the characters’ well being. With that said, I found the movie sufficiently intriguing and the parts I liked best excluded the science fiction aspect.

The casting in this movie was spot on. Joe Lambs’ friends (Riley Griffiths, Ryan Lee, and Zach Mills) and the pleasantly unexpected David Gallagher (who plays the local stoner) deliver some hilarious lines, while Elle Fanning gives a superb performance as Joe’s crush, Alice. I found Kyle Chandler and Ron Eldard believable as the sometimes sensitive, sometimes surly, feuding fathers.

After it’s all said and done, I’d definitely watch Super 8 again – it’s a fun, solid movie that offers great directing, great acting and a pretty darn good soundtrack too (Electric Light Orchestra, anyone?). Just be sure to stick around during the credits; you get to watch Charles’ homemade zombie film in its entirety. Very funny and well played!

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