Many are saying that Super 8 is the movie of the summer – maybe even the movie of the year. I have to agree. I haven’t been this excited for a movie since Cloverfield came out. It makes sense that J. J. Abrams wrote and directed Super 8. For much of the film I sat wide-eyed awaiting the next explosion. Super 8 goes by pretty quickly but is also easy to keep up with. It reminded me of E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I am a sucker for explosions, as I’m sure I’ve said before, and this movie has plenty of them. This has classic Spielberg written all over it. I am very thankful for that. It’s not that I don’t think J. J. Abrams wouldn’t have been this good without Spielberg – wait – yes I do. Cloverfield was exciting and just what I was looking for when I sat down to watch it, but this film is more than that. As cliché as it is you really will laugh, cry, and experience all kinds of other emotions.
Now to get to the good stuff. Let me just say that I was blown away by the young actors in this film. They were phenomenal. The talent cup overfloweth. It is 1979. Joe, Cary, Preston, Charles, and Martin (played in order by Joel Courtney, Ryan Lee, Zach Mills, Riley Griffiths, and Gabriel Basso) are best buds. The film gets off to a running start. Joe has just lost his mother to a mill accident. His father, police deputy Jackson Lamb – played by the very likable and genuine Kyle Chandler – has a full house of mourners after the service for his wife. A man with long blonde hair pulls up to the house and goes inside only to be dragged out by Jackson and thrown in the back of his squad car. Right away we are compelled to ask questions. Who was that man? Why was Jack so angry at him? When do we get to see some explosions?
Several months later it is the most joyous and celebrated day for young kids everywhere: the last day of school. Charles is an aspiring filmmaker and has been working with the other boys to make a zombie flick. When he asks Alice (Elle Fanning) to be in the film, he unwittingly creates all kinds of problems. Jack wants Joe to become more responsible and stop running around with his friends making this movie, but like any rebellious youth, Joe disregards his father’s wishes. The group sneaks out one night to film a scene for the movie at a local train station. This is where things get really good.
A train whistle is heard in the distance and Charles jumps on the “production value” of having a train zipping by while he films an emotional scene. Joe is the only one to see what happens next. A white pickup truck crashes into the train causing an explosion that E.T. probably could have seen from home.
Something happens that night. Something bigger than any of the kids realize. In the coming weeks, strange things start happening around the quiet little town of Lillian, Ohio. The power goes in and out, appliances disappear, and dogs start running away from home and ending up being found miles and miles away. While Jack tries to keep his son out of trouble and the town safe, something is causing massive destruction everywhere. People start asking questions. There is a town meeting very reminiscent of the one from Close Encounters. The creature keeps making appearances that are only seen by the victims that it is taking. The audience doesn’t get to see it until later in the film. Is it worth the wait? I’d say so.
Before I go, I have some complaints. Some issues. I feel there were some plot holes that need patching up. First of all, I have never heard of the driver of a pickup truck colliding with a freight train going full speed and surviving. Perhaps I need to do my freight train colliding with pickup truck homework and check the survival rate. On that same note, as a movie explosion lover, I was giddy at the beginning of the train explosion, but grew tired of it as it dragged on for about 15 seconds too long. I’m sure this crash was meant to illustrate the immensity of a crash like this one, but my word. There were so many explosions that one would think the train was just carrying gasoline. Another reason why I questioned the survival of the driver of the pickup truck.
The other two issues are things that would simply spoil the film for you. That would be no fun for anyone, so let’s skip those two. (If you have seen the film and want to know what they are, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.)