This film really has been noted by many reviewers as an homage to the type of family adventure film that Steven Spielberg made his own in the 80s and that really is what J.J. Abrams and Spielberg have delivered,
A group of junior high school boys are creating a film with the intention of entering it into a competition. They talk an older girl from their school Alice Dainard (Elle Fanning) into acting in the film and she also drives them to a disused train station to shoot a scene. When they see a train coming Charles (Riley Griffiths) the writer/director gets them to rush into action to take advantage of the train hurtling past to give their film some realism. Joe (Joel Courtney) sees a truck drive onto the track and deliberately head for the train. The crash is spectacular with metal flying all around as Alice and boys run for safety. Once the chaos dies down and things stop exploding Joe sees something smash its way out of one rail-car and escape into the night but he doesn’t get a good look at it.
Incredibly they find the truck driver is still alive but badly hurt and that he’s their science teacher Dr Woodard (Glynn Turman). When he comes round he is very agitated and he warns them that they mustn’t let anyone else know they saw any of this as it would put both themselves and their families in danger. A load of military vehicles appear and Alice insists on leaving right away before they get caught.
Time to back up a bit because much more has happened that I’ve skipped. The film opens at a factory with one of those signs counting the number of days since the last accident and we see a number in the 4000s taken down and replaced by the number 1. Next we are at Joe’s house after the funeral of Joe’s mother. Joe is outside alone while his friends are inside with other guests eating and Charles is worried about Joe’s involvement in his film project. Alice’s father Dainard (Ron Eldard) drives up to the house and enters. Moments later Joe’s father Jackson Lamb (Kyle Chandler) is angrily pushing Dainard back out of the house and arresting him. The reactions of anger and guilt fuelled by grief are more important part of this film than the story of the alien creature.
The film blends this drama with typical elements of a science fiction thriller. The military are all over the crash site and denying there was anything dangerous on the train. Next they are all over the town searching for something. Jackson is the town’s deputy sheriff and he’s kept busy investigating people and dogs disappearing and lot strange thefts. The sheriff himself is one of those who has gone missing leaving Jackson in charge. Meanwhile Joe is trying to find out more about the crash, much to the frustration of Charles who wants to use presence military in the town in his film.
The scenes with the young actors are really nice with some great dialogue and lot of humour. The adult characters are a bit more thinly drawn and other than Jackson we don’t really get to see them do very much, other than get in way. The military are the bad guys with secrets they are willing to kill to keep which is typical in a lot of 80s films involving aliens that this film is an homage to. There were lots of nice touches that fixed the film in the late 1970s such as the film technology the boys used, the Super 8 film
When the alien finally appears it is grey coloured CGI. It’s not good or evil, just angry, hungry and desperate to get home but we don’t get to know very much about it. The start of this film is really great but the ending is a bit of a let-down. I strongly recommend this film because the strong start is worth watching even if it tends to fizzle out at the end.
- Rotten Tomatoes
- Super 8 Review (wastingtimeblog.wordpress.com)
- Super 8 (2011) (boogiestu.wordpress.com)