I can’t believe that some critics actually break the sacred law of “no spoilers”.
In the first review I read on this movie, the knucklehead, whose name I won’t mention
of course, revealed what the creature in Super 8 looked like. And in the very first line
too. As a friend of mine quipped when I told him, “That’s like telling people that Darth
Vader is Luke’s father before seeing The Empire Strikes Back.”
Super 8 is the type of movie where surprise is a key element to enjoying it. All
the movie and tv trailers raised our anticipations, piqued our curiosity as to what this
summer arrival that smashes it’s way out of a boxcar would look like. It’s a major draw-
ing card that makes us rush out to see the movie in the first place.
I assure you this critic, thank God, will not spoil such a good film. It would be
Helmed by Star trek’s J.J Abrams, with Steven Spielberg’s inspiration all over
it, Super 8 is set in the summer of 1979 when there was still no internet and Michael Jack-
son was still black. We pick up the action four months earlier that year when tragedy has
struck a small Ohio town, pitting one father against another, and yet neither one realizing
that things will change for both in ways they could not possibly imagine.
Those who have seen them will have nostalgic memories of E.T. and Close En-
counters (with a bit of Cloverfield mixed in), as we watch small town youngsters, now out
of school with plenty of time on their hands, making an amateur horror movie using (natu-
rally) super 8 film. The cast and crew consist of Charles (Riley Griffiths), incredibly
likable as the autocratic director; Ryan Lee’s Careywhose fetish for fireworks is a bit
unnerving; Preston, played by Zach Mills, anxious, but good at getting things set up
quickly; our two performers Martin (Gabriel Baaso) and Alice portrayed by Elle Fanning;
and our prime hero Joe Lamb rendered by Joel Courtney, Charles’ make up specialist
whose father Jackson (Kyle Chandler) is deputy sheriff.
It’s fun watching these kids shooting a night scene at the local train station, taking
movie making so seriously. That is, until a passing train crashes into an oncoming truck
derailing every car in domino like sequence. The kids panic, letting their camera fall to the
deck, still shooting. They run desperately out the way of flying boxcars, random explo-
sions and toppling power lines. When all is done, something bursts out from one boxcar,
escapes into the darkness, and the fun is over.
Military personnel and heavy vehicles immediately descend on Lillian, Ohio like
North Carolina tornadoes. What was on that train, forcing them to come out here? These
and other disturbing questions have sheriff Lamb curious while fencing with Army com-
mander Colonel Nelec ( a very determined Noah Emmerich), especially when strange
things start happening around the town and the vicinity.
Whenever Spielberg is involved , there’s always that quirky combo of drama, action
and comedy that has always worked. Super 8 is no exception to the rule. Amidst the
chaotic turmoil and emotional rhetoric, Abrams script allows all his players to be aptly
spontaneous. There’s even a cute sideline story with Joe and Alice that plays like Romeo
It’s definitely the pre-teens who steal the show in Super 8. Joe and his friends
misadventures perfectly mimic little Barry’ s encounter of the third kind and Drew Barry-
-more’s mutual shock upon first sight of the extraterrestrial. They’re not perfect, only hu-
man making them so relatable in a film that the whole family can watch and enjoy