June 12, 2011
"Super 8" is a very hyped-up movie. The trailer does not tell us much, just a train crash that a group of middle school kids witness. But truth to tell, the name of Steven Spielberg attached to this project still did a lot to bring the audience in. I was one of them. J.J. Abrams as the director also gives the film some pedigree.
"Super 8" brings us back to the summer of 1979. We follow a gang of kids who are finishing their home-made zombie film for a short film competition. While shooting a scene at a train station one midnight, they witness a massive train crash. Following this event, strange goings-on like missing appliances and disappearing pets then people pervade their small town of Lilian, Ohio. Before they know it, the US Air Force comes in and evacuates the whole town. These events are seen in the eyes of these young teens.
The central character is Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney). We share his excitement over his shared film project with his friends, where his role is make-up and models. We share his sadness over his mom's death and his alienation from his busy policeman father (Kyle Chandler). We share his puppy love with Alice (a very pretty and mature-looking Elle Fanning). His personal story was intertwined with the terrorization of his town by an unknown menace.
This is not really a perfect film. The ending (which in fact I found cheesy, overly sentimental but ultimately meaningless) could really have been done better. However, it is a perfectly Spielbergian film. We see him in the precocious children who play the lead characters. We see him in the passionate hobby of the kids. We see him in the alien monster. So many elements of 80's Spielberg can be seen in "Super 8", now for a new generation of kids to identify with.
As the main film faded out, I was thinking they should have shown the film that the kids were working on. Happily, they did! Stay on through the first half of the credits as you see the kids' ouevre, entitled "The Case."