Hello reader from the future, I have a question for you. What’s THE MOVIE being hyped up right now, in your time? I’m sure there’s at least one that you simply cannot avoid. You see ads, videos, and posters of it anywhere you go. Well, that’s exactly how it was with this movie. Hyped up to be the next best thing after whatever the fuck is that, it ultimately failed to reach those unrealistic expectations. However, underneath all the aggressive marketing hides a nifty little nostalgic experience I recommend.
Super 8 is a science fiction movie featuring a distinct eighties vibe and excellent special effects. It’s basically Spielberg’s and King’s illegitimate child although I should tell you that Spielberg is the executive producer. We will be following a group of young friends who stumble upon something otherworldly while filming a zombie movie on a Super 8 camera. Hence the title. I think you already know what you can expect from this movie. First romances, friendships, and all the usual coming-of-age events will be interrupted by supernatural forces.
Supernatural forces which are also threatening their small town because of course the story is taking place in a small town. Featuring a $50 million budget and a bunch of unknown kids, Super 8 is a movie that looks great. It has that sense of scale and reality achieved by practical effects without much use of the dreaded CGI. And when they had to use CGI, it was believable and appropriate. I especially loved the train crash which was simply mind-blowing and the main event in the entire movie. I guess J.J. Abrams, who directed this movie, has a thing for crashes as I still remember the one from Lost. And lens flares, he simply loves lens flares.
It is the year 1979, in a small sleepy town where almost nothing happens. The economy is doing great, and there is not a care in the world for the youth, and not even elders. A group of teenagers with an interest in movie-making decide to make their own movie, involving zombies (how cool). After casting their lead actress, a fellow student, one of them falls in love with her (well almost all of them) and there you have your romantic innocent element of the movie. While shooting a scene at the train station, they witness a horrible train wreck that nearly kills them. However, things start to get even more complicated and dangerous from this moment on.
Super 8 offers nothing new counting on the nostalgia, charm, and visuals to make up for that. I also appreciate the realistic character development delving into themes like grief, loss, and fear. It makes all the commercial stuff go down much smoother. And in the best Spielberg fashion, it keeps its cards close to the chest, leaving the mystery fester for almost two-thirds of the movie. So, only in the final third do we actually see and understand what’s actually going on.
Since it’s a PG-13 movie, you shouldn’t expect graphic violence or anything like that. So, Super 8 is not a scary movie, it’s more of a mystery perfectly suited for teenagers but aimed squarely at their parents. The cast was good although I think it could’ve benefited from more familiar faces. At least the kids were alright.
Director: J.J. Abrams
Writer: J.J. Abrams
Cast: Joel Courtney, Riley Griffiths, Ryan Lee, Gabriel Basso, Zach Mills, Elle Fanning
Fun Facts: The train crash sequence and its aftermath was done using mostly practical effects.