Christian Movie Review
Writer/director J.J. Abrams, with Steven Spielberg producing, has created an entertaining summer, sci-fi thriller that offers a wealth of suspense and scares wrapped in a satisfying coming-of-age tale in their new movie, Super 8.
With these two talented masters of mystery and suspense at the helm, one would expect this film to be full of frightful surprises, and the film delivers just that. Some come in the form of standard horror-movie fare that keeps you on the edge of your seat knowing a scary monster is just around the corner ready to pounce on its next unsuspecting victim. Others come in the form of subtle plot twists that keep the story moving along.
Reminiscent of Spielberg classics, Super 8 centers on a group of adolescents working together to solve a mystery while simultaneously dealing with their own emotional struggles and family conflicts.
As the film opens, viewers meet Joe Lamb (skillfully portrayed by newcomer Joel Courtney) and his father, Jack (Kyle Chandler), a deputy sheriff in the small Ohio. The movie then fast forwards four months to the summer of 1979. Joe’s best friend, Charles (Riley Griffiths), dreams of becoming a filmmaker and has developed a script for a zombie movie that he plans to submit to a student film festival. He recruits Joe and other friends, including the slightly older and attractive Alice Dainard (portrayed by the talented Elle Fanning) to help him film it.
In the midst of filming one night, they spot an oncoming train and rush to include it in their shot. As their scene plays out, the train unexpectedly derails in a scene of fantastic explosions that seem to go on forever. As the young movie-makers abandon their posts to run for safety, their Super 8 mm camera continues to record the action and captures something very mysterious emerging from the train wreckage. Soon the area is crawling with members of the military working hard to clean up the scene—and possibly cover up what truly happened there.
Super 8 could best be described as Goonies for adults, with the heartfelt drama of E.T. thrown in the mix. Though many of the movie’s main characters are kids, it is not a film for children. There is a plethora of foul language accompanied by violence and a bit of drug use. One of the young characters also steals her dad’s car and drives it without a license while several of them sneak out against their parents’ wishes to participate in late-night film shoots.
For what the movie is intended to be – a fun and scary sci-fi adventure in the vein of horror flicks from the ‘70s, it excels. Abrams artfully keeps his “monster” hidden from view until just the right moment and slowly reveals clues about its origins. Meanwhile, he adds depth to the plot by exploring Joe’s journey of coming to terms with his mom’s death, Alice’s stilted relationship with her alcoholic father, and the deepening friendship between the young pair.
The action and suspense move at a good pace, and Abrams brings it all to a satisfying conclusion. As the credits roll, we even finally get to see the movie that the young filmmakers have worked so earnestly to create.
While Super 8 is a fun ride that locks in the viewer from the very beginning and keeps them engaged until the end, it is regrettable that so much foul language is included. Without it, the movie would still be an impactful sci-fi thriller and more suitable for the whole family to enjoy.
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