It’s fair to say I’ve been anticipating this film for the past year or so, ever since I saw the mysterious teaser trailer, which featured a massive train wreck. This, combined with the news that the co- creator of ‘Lost‘, probably my favourite TV show ever, JJ Abrams was directing, it was a need for me to go and see this film!
It begins in 1979, with the central character of a group of young teenagers losing his mother. Joe (played by newcomer Joel Courtney), has a terrible relationship with his dad, the deputy sheriff of the small town they live in, Lillian. As a result, he seeks solace with his friends who’re making a zombie film with a camera that was the inspiration for the film’s title, ‘Super 8’. One night, the kids all sneak out of their homes and witness the huge freight train crash which features in the trailer, whilst filming for their own movie. The scene itself is around a minute long, and is as brash, loud and destructive as any crash I’ve ever seen! One of the carriages of the train contains a mysterious creature, which promptly bursts out. As the onrushing army approach, the kids flee and promise never to speak of this to anyone. And the film properly begins.
The influences of producer Spielburg are easy to see. Although this will most likely be from director Abrams’ love of his movies as a child, it certainly echoes of ‘E.T‘, but is certainly its own film at the same time. The detail in the film is extensive and certainly representative of its time period, with adverts, clothes and objects from the period all featuring. The special effects also fit the film very well, and are only noticeable when you finally see the monster in the latter stages of the film. I won’t ruin what it looks like, but it is more of an advanced ’21st century’ monster, and as such, doesn’t quite fit with the period. A more basic monster would’ve fit in much better.
Also, for the majority of the film, it’s more so based on the relationships between Joe and his friends, and how they interact in the surrounding panic created by the Army invading their small town. The performances from the kids, many of whom are newcomers, were pretty good, and although noone stands out in particular, they all worked together, to create a convincing performance.
This and ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’, a film which I reviewed earlier, both have one thing in common: they make the audience care about the characters they’re watching. This is a big acheivement when one considers that summer blockbusters are usually restricted to being one big action scene after another, in order to please a mass audience. The change of pace offered in both is a breath of fresh air and something to appeal to those who are sick and tired of the same old formulas used in the conventionalsummer blockbuster.
I’m going to give Super 8 4/5.