Super 8 (2011)
By: Victor Takac on June 17, 2011  |  Comments ()  |  Bookmark and Share
Poster Art
Director: J.J Abrams
Starring: Elle Fanning, Amanda Michalka, Kyle Chandler, Joel Courteney, Riley Griffiths
Screenplay: J.J Abrams
Country: USA
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Being born in 1989 I never got the chance to see the likes of E.T, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and The Goonies on the big screen as a child. I could only imagine how exhilarated those kids must have felt after walking out of the cinema, but now, thanks to J.J Abrams' Super 8, I no longer have to imagine.

Super 8 is a love letter to the aforementioned films, but also an entirely unique creature in its own right.

The premise, simply enough revolves around the lives of a group of young kids in the summer of 1979. They are trying to create their own super 8 zombie film to enter into a competition. By chance, whilst filming at night, they witness a destructive train crash that almost kills them. Whilst recovering, something stirs in the wreckage and escapes....

The opening scene is where you realise Super 8 means business, and isn't afraid to put the child protagonists in harm's way in order to provide a thrilling ride. Spectacular effects aside, everything about the sequence is handled brilliantly. The danger the children feel is complimented by the childlike banter and reactions from them after they compose themselves.

These performances from the kids are quite possibly the strongest aspect of the film with each and every young actor bringing their own distinct charm to the table, and I suspect that as Producer, Spielberg himself had a hand in casting them. There isn't a single weak or unbelievable scene with the kids, with several standing out as shining examples of the capabilities and talents of these young actors. Elle Fanning has been growing up in her older sister Dakota's footsteps, though her role as Alice is proof she has the ability to go far in her career. In the film, Alice modestly displays her acting skills to the other kids for a scene in their film, stunning them with her ability to evoke emotion. This is quite fitting as undoubtedly the audience feels the exact same way. Furthermore, the scene in the diner shows how natural they feel in their roles and how much chemistry there is between them. Many adult actors fail to play off each other with as much ease and comfort as they do. If these scenes in particular are anything to go by, Abrams has a definite knack for directing children.

All of this is complimented by the setting and set design. The town of Lillian, Ohio (Named after Abrams grandmother), is an idyllic little town that looks like it was picked straight out of the 70's, complete with its own iconic landmarks like the blue water tower (an obvious attempt at trying to create an iconic image for fans to associate with the film, like the bicycle silhouette in front of the moon from E.T). To further show how much meticulous love and care was taken in giving the sets and settings an authentic feel, one needs not look further than young protagonist, Joe Lamb's bedroom. The set is a monster kids dream. From the Famous Monsters magazines that litter the walls and desks, to the Aurora Monster model kits that are all over the room, no detail has been overlooked. It is clear that there are real fans behind the scenes.

Of course, no monster movie would be complete without a unique and scary monster (or in this case, Alien). Abrams pulls of the old-school technique of building up suspense throughout the film and only showing brief glimpses of the creature until the big reveal at the very end. These teases make the revelation all the more exciting and frightening when the creature finally shows up on screen to wreak mayhem. Frightening, yet sympathetic at the same time, the monster is a well crafted character with its own backstory and purpose. The design itself provides a few nods to a certain creature from another films Abrams has produced, but its spaceship is entirely unique and creative.

Whilst the ending is sure to divide viewers, I personally feel that it was exactly what it needed to be, and is sure to leave you with a smile on your face. A fitting and satisfying ending for a magnificent movie that thrills and exhilarates from beginning to end. Whatever you do, make sure you remain in your seat for the credits as we are treated to the full film, The Case, that the children were seen making throughout the movie, and is filled with every bit of charm as Super 8 itself. In my opinion, Super 8 is more than worthy of bearing the Amblin Productions logo, and a strong contender for film of the year.
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