The late 1970’s were a simpler time. A time when gas wasn’t 4 bucks a gallon. A time when you didn’t have to worry as much about terrorist attacks. A time when steroids didn’t ruin professional sports. A time when the biggest fear and most likely the only fear was when and who was gonna drop the first nuke. JJ Abrams hits the simplicity of the time perfectly in his follow up to the 2009 surprise hit Star Trek. Abrams is a man who is known for throwing money at films to get them made for so than directing. He produced Cloverfield and that was all he did for that film. He directed the forgettable Mission Impossible III and that was his only other film. He created television programs Lost, Felicity, Alias, and Fringe all very successful shows. Needless to say there was skepticism heading into the theater as to whether Abrams could really work the magic on the big screen with his own writing. Over the course of the past week there was Facebook status updates saying your life is not complete until you see this movie. That you should just kill yourself if you wait til DVD or never see it. The trailers never made it seem that good. Just a glorified version of ET except with a large amount of more violence. What happened next can only be described as insanity.
Super 8 gets it’s name from the type of film that the kids are filming their summer zombie flick on for a “Super 8 Film Festival.” The year is 1979 and Joe Lamb’s mother had just passed away in the winter. The opening shot was eerie and haunting and well composed. But more on that later. After the reception (is that what they call it) the film cuts to the end of the school year as the boys talk about the film that the fat one, Charles is going to make. They begin to plan it out and go to the local train station to film a shot. There all shit breaks free. A train accident that was planned out by one of their teachers ends up opening a whole new can of whoop ass.
Something leaves the train and starts terrorizing the town thus bringing in the air force, or is it the other way around. Charles keeps taking the advantage of the situation to add what he calls “production value” to his film with all this army stuff. Joe’s father gets taken in for asking too many questions but then again he is the sheriff’s deputy. Meanwhile Joe falls for the bad dudes daughter who in turn must be like her dad cause you know once a bad egg always a bad egg. As this is happening people are vanishing and the town starts going to hell.
Eventually the air force kicks in with operation walking distance which is a total douche thing to do and the little girl, Alice, is taken by the thing the air force doesn’t want you to know about or have seen. So it’s up to Joe and the kids to go back into the town and save the day. Every bit of plot from there on is essentially spoilers and I don’t think you all want me to ruin that in case you want to see it and haven’t seen it.
So how was the movie then? The simplistic ET like plot without an adorable alien for the children to fall in love with? The story didn’t focus on the monster at all, it was more like a subplot or so it felt. The whole story revolved on the youth, and how we used to live in simpler times. The monster of course is symbolism of the change of times and how things get complicated, it could be a representation of our rebellious teenage years that would soon strike the main characters who are all what 13 in the movie?
The shots were all very well played out, it seemed as if Abrams didn’t waste a single frame of footage. Each one carefully placed, as close to flawlessly edited as possible. The entire shot composition felt like it was the right shot for each moment. The entire fact that the monster wasn’t shown until the very end showed great patience on the part of the filmmakers seeing as in these days of horror films you see the thing way before you should. Granted there were times that thanks to said beautiful shot composition you could guess to an extent what would happen.
The films cast is amicable. They don’t really stand out in any way but you know what the main cast are a bunch of kids who have next to no resumes with the exception of Elle Fanning, the sister of Dakota. Fanning though wasn’t the best actor in the film but she was actually way better than Dakota and less creepy so I think we should give her some credit there. The other kids carried themselves very well throughout the entire film and the adult casting which didn’t have as much power in the names (seriously there was no huge names) most likely to prevent overshadowing from the main roles of the kids. They seemed to all flow together and make it seem like it was a real town going through this which in these days is tough when you have actors who are trying to step their game up.
Overall I have to say that almost every single person was right when they said the film was amazing. This film isn’t really just this generations version of ET as it is one of the few original films that will be cropping up this summer but it might be one of the best films of the year, let alone just the summer. You need to go out and see Super 8 as soon as you can. I hand it a nice clean crisp 9/10