Posted on 8/08/11 03:24 PM
We often forget that a trip to the theater is meant to be something special. There are few experiences like seeing an epic like Star Wars or Indiana Jones on the big screen for the first time. If anything, Super 8 is a strong reminder of this, as it is a very special movie.
The movie follows a group of kids in 1979 Ohio. Joe Lamb has lost his mother and his father, a sheriff's deputy, is more than willing to keep his distance from him. During the summer, Joe and his friends decide to make a zombie film using their Super 8 camera. While filming, a truck derails a freight train, and the camera happens to catch something leaving the wreckage on film. Then mysterious things begin happening around the town: power surges, people disappearing, dogs running away, stolen machinery. Then the Air Force shows up. Exactly what was on that train?
As with many of director J. J. Abrams' films, a shroud of mystery was cast around Super 8. That same mysteriousness is felt throughout the film. Abrams builds up a lot of suspense leading up to the reveal of the "thing."
But the suspense is accompanied by a feeling of awe and wide-eyed wonder not seen in many films made today. It reminds one of the classic Spielberg movies like E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind at times. From this, it's clear that Abrams admires Spielberg, and Super 8 could be considered a love-letter to him in many ways.
Perhaps another big contribution to this is the main protagonists. The kids in the movie are funny and are the best part of the movie. You'll be hard pressed to find a better set of child actors in any film. They have conversations that feel real and are thoroughly entertaining. They're kids playing kids. Their scenes also feature some great character moments, particularly the scenes between Joel Courtney's Joe and Elle Fanning's Alice. There's a tender sweetness to their relationship that really stands out.
These emotional moments, as well as some great summer spectacle, make Super 8 a can't-miss movie. It's got everything: great characters, fantastic action, including the coolest train wreck ever put to film, amazing acting, and pure fun.
But most of all, it's a throwback to the classic blockbusters. Spielberg, who executive produced the film, invented the blockbuster and has made some of the greatest films. Abrams is obviously appreciative of everything he did for movies, and Super 8 is a testament to that. It has the atmosphere, the feel of those films (E.T., Jurassic Park, Close Encounters of the Third Kind), and yet still feels wholly original. It's familiar, yet fresh and new. And most of all, it made me feel like a kid again. Films like Super 8 are the reason you go to the movies.