Title: Super 8
Studio/Distributor: Paramount Pictures/Amblin Entertainment/Bad Robot
Genre(s): Fantasy, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Suspense, Thriller
Cast: Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, Joel Courtney, Riley Griffiths, Gabriel Basso, Cary Lee, Zach Mills, Ron Eldard, Noah Emmerich, AJ Michalka, Richard T. Jones, David Gallagher
Writer: J.J. Abrams
Director: J.J. Abrams
Synopsis: While making a super 8 film, a group of kids in a small town in Indiana witness a devastating train crash. What happens afterwards leads to a series of dangerous and terrifying events.
Bottom Line: I first learned about “Super 8” back when the teaser trailer was attached to “Iron Man 2” last summer. Everyone had their theories after the weekend of the teaser’s theatrical debut. Some have said that it was somewhat connected to 2008’s “Cloverfield”, which was produced by the director of this film and also involved a mysterious creature. As 2010 came to a close, Abrams wanted to make clear that it had nothing to do with “Cloverfield” but instead a homage to the 70s/80s films that were either produced or directed by Steven Spielberg. Growing up in the 90s, I never had the pleasure of seeing Spielberg’s films in a movie theater (with the exception of “Jurassic Park”) but they were childhood staples for me, thanks to VHS, cable television & local network affilates. “E.T.” & “The Goonies” were among my favorites as well as several others, so, going into this, I knew that was in for a fun trip into nostalgia. We begin with the traditional Paramount, Amblin & Bad Robot logos, then we go right into the movie as we are introduced to our main kid character, Joe Lamb (played with great conviction by newcomer Courtney). He’s a boy living in Lillith, a small town in Indiana circa 1979 and we see him outside his home in a state of mourning. Joe has just arrived home after the funeral of his mother, who died in a car accident and he’s now being raised by his policeman father Jackson (Chandler, in what could possibly be a starmaking film performance for the “Friday Night Lights” actor). For Joe, the only thing that keeps him focused and away from a dark place is filming a homemade zombie film directed by his best friend Charles (Griffiths). Charles has just asked the school’s prettiest student, Alice (Fanning, in a wonderful breakout performance), to be in the film and she relucantly agrees to be in it. While filming the movie, the kids notice that a truck is heading on a collision course with a speeding train, causing a massive crash. In the one of the train’s boxcars, Joe notices a loud noise is being heard inside as the door flies off and the rest of the kids discover that the school’s science teacher Mr. Woodward (Glynn Turman) is in the truck that casued the crash. Woodward warns the kids that they must not speak of what happened or there will be dire consequences for them and their parents. Soon after, strange things start to happen, from disappearances to power outages to missing car parts and everything in between. Now, with the army, led by the unsympathetic Nellic (Emmerich), called in to contain the problem, Joe and his friends must to do whatever it takes to find out everything about the thing that escaped from the train car and at the same time, save the town. Everything about this movie is what makes not just a great summer blockbuster, but a great movie in general: fantastic visuals, a well-rounded story, delightful performances and emotions abound. “Super 8” brings about the return of those classic movies that were credited “Steven Spielberg Presents”. Those films that envoked a sense of wonder, imagination & excitement, whether it would an adventure or a comedy or a fantasy or a cross-breed of several genres. And hats off to Oscar winner Michael Giacchino for his rollicking musical score that almost very John Williams-esque, which was the point. “Super 8” is a fun, exciting, thrilling & entertaining adventure that will be enjoyed by kids and adults who are kids at heart.