“Super 8” was written & directed by JJ Abrams & produced by Steven Spielberg. The films has an ensemble cast of child actors including Joel Courtney & Elle Fanning as well as veteran actors like Kyle Chandler, Noah Emmerich & Glynn Turman. This would be Abrams third film as director following 2006’s “Mission Impossible 3” & 2009’s first film in the rebooted “Star Trek” franchise.
In 1979, in the small town of Lillian, Ohio, the the people mourn the loss of a wife and mother who was killed in a factory accident. The Sheriff Jack Lamb (Chandler) & his young son, Joe (Courtney) are both grief stricken but slowly grow apart. As time goes on, Joe & his friends are working on a film project for a contest. While filming at the train station, Joe and his friends are joined by Alice (Fanning) a girl who has an unsettling feeling towards Joe. Joe’s father blames Alice’s father for his wife’s death. While they’re filming, a train passes by. They attempt to use it to up their production value. However, Joe notices a pickup truck on the same track coming from the opposite direction. The truck smashes the train causing massive wreck. As the kids try to get stuff together & get out of there, they spot the truck & the driver still alive. They notice the driver as their biology teacher, Dr. Woodward (Turman). He warns them about what’s on that train, to run & hide cause “they are coming”. The next day, Jack & the Sheriff’s department are blindsided by a number of calls reporting both their pets & appliances all missing. Things get much worse when the U.S. Army arrives at the wreckage, claiming that “something” escaped the cargo cart. Now, as Jack tries to uncover the secret that the Army is hiding, Joe & his friends do their own investigating into this mysterious sightings which leads them an unforgettable journey that makes a lasting impression on their little minds.
This was a phenomenal film from beginning to end. A simple story with incredible visuals but at the same time having the look & feel of a small low budget independent film. With Abrams’ directing & writing combined with the production value of a Spielberg film really bring home the feel of a great adventure. It has a dark feel sci-fi feel to it but also has the fun & excitement of a movie like “The Goonies”, another film produced by Spielberg. The chemistry of the child actors really brings the sense of adventure while the performances from Chandler & Turman bring the sci-fi mystery elements and are all woven together beautifully. The cliches are there but the performances are so good that they can be overlooked. The pacing & timing are great as well as the cinematography.
Overall, this film was great but after Abrams had success with his later films, this one is kind of overlooked. Abrams would go on direct the 2013 “Star Trek” sequel, “Into the Darkness”, as well as 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” & 2019’s “The Rise of Skywalker”. He would also serve as producer to the last 3 “Mission Impossible” films as well as 2008’s “Cloverfield” & 2016’s “10 Cloverfield Lane” & 2018’s “The Cloverfield Paradox”. Joel Courtney would go in and star in the 2018 Netflix film, “The Kissing Booth” and its 2020 sequel. Elle Fanning would appear in more films including 2014’s “Maleficent” & its 2019 sequel, “The Neon Demon”, “Live by Night”, “Trumbo”, “I Think We’re Alone Now” & “The Roads Not Taken”.