Sunday, June 12, 2011

A "Super" Movie....

Super 8 is the new film from writer-director J.J. Abrams (the 2009 Star Trek reboot, Lost) and producer Steven Speilberg. Set in 1979, the plot details the adventures of a some young friends who are filming a Super 8 horror film when a freight train derails nearby, and something escapes the wreck. The group, led by Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney, who's excellent) tries to figure out what's happening as a series of mysterious events plague the town. To say too much more about the plot would spoil the fun of this enjoyable movie.

All the touches of the Spileberg-ian coming of age story are here. Joe is mourning the loss of his Mom, and his Dad, well played by Kyle Chandler, can't relate to him. The girl Joe has a crush on, Alice (Elle Fanning) is being raised by her Dad, who seems to have a secret of his own. The cast of young actors is uniformly excellent. There are a lot of visual references to Spielberg's films, and the period details are perfect, right down to the decor of the monster movie-loving kids' rooms, and the appropriately John Williams-esque score by Michael Giacchino.

This film is a love letter not only to the kinds of movies Steven Spielberg gave us in the 70s & 80s (Close Encounters, ET, The Goonies) but the science-fiction and horror films that filmmakers like Spielberg & Abrams grew up watching. If you know anything about Spielberg's youth, you know he grew up making Super 8 movies like the one depicted in the film, and Abrams did the same thing when he was growing up in Los Angeles. It's a nice example of kismet that informs the movie with another level of heart.

Like the best films of Spielberg and his contemporaries, Super 8 takes time to let us get to know & like these characters as the story unfolds. It's one of the best movies of the year, and I look forward to seeing it again.

Reviewer's Note: Make sure to stay during the credits for an additional scene.

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