WARNING! May contain spoilers!
Super 8 is a good film struggling to overcome a mediocre, been-there-done-that script. The movie concerns six teenagers just trying to make a zombie film in the summer of 1979. One night, while filming near a train station, one of them, Joe Lamb (Joel Coutney) witnesses a pickup truck drive onto the tracks and collide with a train head-on. Before they know it, they are in over their heads and have to deal with troops trying to protect a secret and some big beastie decimating the town.
Produced by Steven Spielberg and directed by J. J. Abrams, Super 8 has promise and is overall enjoyable. The beginning prologue is moving and the subsequent introduction to the youthful protagonists was refreshing. These kids reminded me of Sam Raimi and his brother Ted, who along with school chum Bruce Campbell made films throughout their school days and went on to make Evil Dead and other horror chestnuts.
Another plus is the inclusion of late 1970’s hit songs such as Don’t Bring Me Down by ELO, Heart of Glass by Blondie, and many others. Makes one feel nostalgic for days with good music.
Unfortunately, the movie succumbs to having too many whiz-bang special effects. They simply weren’t necessary, although they were impressive to behold and the monster was terrifying. However, at times, the viewer will feel overwhelmed. The train crash in the beginning was a prime example. It seems that the filmmakers wanted to outdo the bus/train crash from the Fugitive with Harrison Ford.
Here’s another quibble. What was the beast’s motivation? He seems to be marauding and decimating the city at first and we later learn that all this beastie really wants to do is to go home! Also, did he devour his victims? The movie never makes this clear.
However, the movie remains as a good one-time viewing experience. The young actors more than make up for the weaknesses and plot holes of this movie. Elle Fanning is outstanding and so is Joel Courtney, in his film debut. Ryan Lee, who plays Cary, a kid who loves fireworks, steals the show with his eager enthusiasm.
Also, don’t leave before the end credits! This is the best part of the movie!
Hilarious goof: One boy is watching In Search of on TV. The movie takes place in 1979, but shows a 1980 episode! OOPS! The episode shown is UFO Coverups.
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