Thursday, June 30, 2011

Super 8

Year: 2011
Director: J.J. Abrams
Cast: Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler, Ron Eldard, Riley Griffiths, Noah Emmerich

Plot: In 1979, in the small fictional town of Lillian, Ohio, a group of teenage friends attempting to make a zombie film witness a horrifying train crash. A deadly creature escapes from one of the cars and sets the kids on an adventure they'll never forget.

Review: Honestly, I thought I wasn't going to like Super 8 as much as I thought before going in to the cinema, but I was proven wrong. Super 8 is super, and a fine way to spend time at the movies.

J.J. Abrams teams up with Steven Spielberg to make a movie that is reminiscent of previous 80s kids adventures like The Goonies, Stand By Me and E.T. If you must know, this was the reason I thought I wouldn't like this film, because I felt that those aforementioned films were a bit too old fashioned. I certainly thought I had outgrown them.

But in the end, Super 8 truly delivers. With a handful of fine young actors, a good plot and a bit of CGI, Abrams weaves his magic and gives us a film we can connect with and have fun at the same time. The most memorable moment had to be the train crash itself, which is astounding and mind blowing to see. This, along with other heartwarming and sometimes heartbreaking moments make Super 8 very enjoyable.

Out of the kid actors, two of them stand out: Joel Courtney and Elle Fanning, who are the main protagonists of the story. Courtney and Fanning play Joe Lamb and Alice Dainard respectively, two friends who share a good deal of admiration for one another, but are restrained by their respective fathers, who in contrast hate each other due to Joe's mother's death, an incident Joe's father blames Alice's father for causing. Courtney and Fanning successfully reel the audience in with their superb performances, making us believe and even feel the pain they experience, and the occasional funny moments they encounter as well. I think these two kids will be great as their acting career progresses.

Not to be outdone are Kyle Chandler and Ron Eldard as Joe and Alice's fathers respectively, Chandler as the town's deputy sheriff who is trapped between trying and failing to understand his son, and dealing with the aftermath of the crash; Eldard as the alcoholic who is emotionally abusive to his daughter. Like Kung Fu Panda 2, this is yet another film that could be a Father's Day entry.

But there's more to Super 8 than just drama. A creature comes forth from the train, and its needs are simple, but it will do whatever it takes to achieve them. Its connection to the military that shows up to contain the crash eventually presents itself, and the battle that ensues is well played out. This is where elements of Cloverfield, Abrams' well known produced film start to show, and Abrams is wise to not show us the creature's appearance till the final third of the film.

Summing it up, I had tons of fun with Super 8, as we see it from the point of view of a bunch of kids who are aspiring filmmakers witnessing a very real adventure unfold before them. Stay tuned during the closing credits to see their finished zombie film, which kinda reminds us why we love the movies so much. (4/5)

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