Super 8 Movie Review
There’s something magical about Steven Spielberg films. Somehow The Bearded One manages to make movies that easily transport the audience to another time and place which is quite a feat that few directors can pull off. There’s something comforting and familiar when you watch classics like E.T.: THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL or CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, I guess it’s a feeling of nostalgia. After watching SUPER 8, I was surprised to find that somehow J.J. Abrams has captured that mixture of nostalgic magic, suspense and a great story that is so Spielberg-esque.
The year is 1979 and we are in a small town in Ohio where Joe Lamb (played brilliantly by Joel Courtney) has just lost his mom in a tragic accident, so he throws himself into helping his friends make a movie on his super 8 camera. While filming a scene, the group of friends witness a train crash that sets off a series of strange occurrences in the small town of Lillian, OH.
Over the last few months there has been a lot of secrecy surrounding the film SUPER 8. We haven’t seen a lot of trailers or marketing for a film that was produced by Spielberg and directed by Abrams, and although I respect the fact that they want to keep everything a surprise for the audience, after watching the film I felt everything was a little anticlimactic. Not to say it was bad, it’s just not what I thought it would be.
That said there were a lot of positives about the film that just can’t be overlooked. First off, the train crash scene was nothing short of amazing. Derailing a train is no small feat in filmmaking and the special effects people, set designer and everyone else who was involved with this scene should get an award because this part of the film was fantastic. It may seem a little bizarre that I would get so excited about a train wreck, but after watching this film you too will see what I’m talking about. It will send chills up your spine, it is really that good.
Another positive was the character development. A great story must have great characters and SUPER 8 does deliver in this regard. Joel Courtney did a great job with Joe Lamb, a character who is reserved and hurting at the loss of his mother, yet he’s not angry with the world or his father who hasn’t quite accepted the fact that his wife is gone and his son needs him. Add in Alice (Elle Fanning) and her father who are connected with the Lambs in a tragic fashion, along with the three friends of Joe’s who are making the film and you have a nice balanced group of characters that play off of each other in just the right fashion.
SUPER 8 was a good film, but it wasn’t great. I think it had a lot of key elements that make a good film but it just didn’t go far enough. The “big secret” the studio was hiding turned out to be a little subpar and overall the plot was a little formulaic. Ironically, had this film been released back in the late 70’s/early 80’s like it was set and during the time Spielberg was just making his mark on Hollywood, it would have been fantastic to watch. However here in 2011, I just feel like it was a little forced and something I had seen many times before.