Super 8 is a rarity for this time of year as it succeeds on every level as being an awesome summer movie that is also well written, directed, and acted. There’s also a level of nostalgia to it that makes the film feel like it should have been released in 1979, the year the movie is set in, instead of today. All of this makes for a wonderful film-going experience that will excite both adults and kids, and should stay with you for years to come.
The story revolves around a group of kids who are out one night filming a movie when a train crashes near them. The cargo on the train is not what it seems though, and soon the military has taken over their small Ohio town and are looking for something that is hiding in the bushes. Something big! To say more about the story would ruin it, so I’m going to stop there and let you discover it on your own.
It’s no surprise that Steven Spielberg produced Super 8 as the film takes many pages out of his playbook and is in the same league as E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. There’s also a bit of Rob Reiner’s Stand By Me, Richard Donner’s The Goonies, and Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist in the pacing and overall style of the film. Writer-director J.J. Abrams is obviously a fan of these films and it shows. If he wasn’t already on the path at being the next Spielberg, he certainly is now.
As for the cast, they are all a bunch of nobodies with the exception of Elle Fanning, who plays the girl all the boys are in love with. The boys are made up of Joel Courtney, Ryan Lee, Zach Mills, Riley Griffiths, and Gabriel Basso. Remember those names because they are sure to be the next crop of Hollywood superstars. While the film revolves around Courtney’s character, all the young actors bring something equally charming and believable to their parts, especially Griffiths as the foul-mouthed director of their film.
It’s not without flaws, but I watched Super 8 with a geeky, child-like grin and loved every moment of it. Yes, a lot of that is the nostalgia factor, but it really hits the mark and is a lot of fun to watch. I think I might just have to see it again this weekend actually.