banner image

:: Super 8

It’s funny that Steven Spielberg is attached to the movie Super 8 because one of the things that hits you during the movie is that same feeling you felt the first time you saw E.T. The fresh-faced kids, a young actress that you know is going to be a star and even an alien that just wants to get home. It’s all there, but you can’t really say that J.J. Abrams has copied a single thing from the classic… because what he has done is create an individual film that shines for about 90% of its running time.

Super 8 sees a group of kids, led by Charles (Riley Griffiths – newcomer) and Joe (Joel Courtney) trying to make a zombie film, but in doing so they accidentally catch a massive train crash on camera. However, this isn’t any ordinary train crash because soon the town is haunted by the disappearance of people, dogs and lots of things made by metal. Convinced that something is going on the kids decide to investigate. Meanwhile Joe’s father, Jackson (Kyle Chandler) is called to investigate the crash. He also suspects the military is covering up something but is also worried about his son’s budding relationship with Alice (Elle Fanning).

J.J. Abrams really has outdone himself here. He doesn’t fall into the trap of introducing the alien too early… after all the main part of this story is the relationship between Joe, his friends, Alice and his father. To his credit Abrams never lets the sci-fi aspect of the film overshadow those relationships… perhaps the right way to describe this film is a drama with some sci-fi thrown in. The train crash scene is enough to show anyone that J.J. Abrams is one of the finest directors we have around at the moment. It’s intense and stunning (without going over the top) and you do genuinely find yourself worried about the characters as they run through it. The only let down is the final 15 minutes of the film. The flowery end has ‘Spielberg’ written all over it and is ultimately what prevents Super 8 from being one of the finest films to surface over the last couple of years.

The other stroke of genius Abrams reveals is in his casting. Those who are fans of the TV series Friday Night Lights know what Kyle Chandler is capable of, and he certainly doesn’t fail to deliver here. Chandler is brilliant and it is a shame that his character kind of fades away into nothing towards the end of the film. But where Abrams really has made the right choice is with the kids. They are all brilliant but Joel Courtney seems to be the one that will have the massive career ahead of him… he is a natural talent. He is also well supported by Elle Fanning who seems to be following in her sister’s footsteps and is blossoming into a fine actress.

The first 90% of Super 8 are brilliant and Abrams really needs to be congratulated for his skill and vision, but the last 15 minutes of this film really do leave a bad taste in your mouth, it’s a shame it ends with such a PG ending rather then live up to its convictions. Still, Super 8 does more than enough to impress and is certainly worth a look.