Super 8–Movie Review

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4.5 Stars

Super 8 is an exciting summer sci-fi movie with a rather old-fashioned feel. Steven Spielberg is listed as Producer, and it greatly resembles, in both its strengths and its weaknesses, some of the classic movies he made during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

I think this is a good thing. I am thoroughly sick of summer blockbusters that think that a lot of fake-looking computer-generated special effects can eliminate the need for decent writing and acting. Super 8 has special effects too, but they are old-fashioned Spielbergian special effects–a bit over the top perhaps, but thrilling to watch. More importantly, the movie has an interesting story with engaging, believable characters.

The story in set in 1979 in a small Ohio town. A group of middle school students are trying to make a zombie movie using Super 8, a relatively inexpensive low-quality film format then commonly used in home movie cameras. Charles (Riley Griffiths) is the nerdy would-be monster movie auteur. Joe (Joel Courtney), a withdrawn boy still grieving over the death of his mother, is drawn to the project because of his interest in model making and movie makeup. Both are attracted to Alice (Elle Fanning) a rebellious girl who is recruited by Charles to play the love interest.

When the kids sneak out to shoot a night scene they witness a spectacular train wreck. (The train was apparently carrying explosives…among other things.) Afterwards a series of mysterious and frightening events set the formerly peaceful town in a panic. Joe’s father (Kyle Chandler), a gruff but well-meaning Sheriff’s Deputy, tries to solve the mystery, but he’s clueless in more ways than one.

I’m hoping that this movie is successful enough that we’ll see more like it.