The story takes place in 1979. The main character is Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney). He serves as a makeup artist on “The Case”, a zombie picture Charles hopes to enter in a regional film festival. Joe’s whose life ruins when his mother dies in a factory accident.
The loss shadows both the boy’s relationship with his father (Kyle Chandler), a sheriff’s deputy, and with Alice Dainard (Elle Fanning), whose father (Ron Eldard) seems to have had something to do with the death. When four months after the tragic accident at the factory has left, Charles (Riley Griffiths) is ready to continue filming his George A. Romero-inspired zombie flick, and has enlisted the help of the local cutie Alice Dainard (Elle Fanning) to play in the movie.
The group of friends meets up at a train station with the aim to film a scene and end up smack dab in the middle of an epic train crash that they somehow manage to walk away from with nothing more than scraped knees. As the government is always behind these kinds of things, the U.S. Air Force arrives on the scene in record time and starts pushing people around like they run the place.
Soon after, weird things start happening all around – people disappear, dogs run away. And these meddling kids take it upon themselves to figure out what is going on before the whole place goes under. Because the government is always behind these kinds of things, the U.S. Air Force arrives on the scene in record time and starts pushing people around like they run the place.
Soon after, weird things start happening all around Lillian — people disappear, dogs run away — and these meddling kids take it upon themselves to figure out what the heck is going on before the whole place goes under. Super 8 does a lot right, and the first is the casting.
Joel Courtney and Elle Fanning steal the show with wonderfull performances. Courtney never misses a beat in his character’s progression from the quiet, broken-hearted follower, to the brave, romantic leader, and he even overcomes the shallowly written relationship between he and his father.
Fanning delivers a performance that rivals actresses twice, even three times her age, and is perfectly cast alongside Courtney. One of the most effective and memorable scenes in the film is one without any of the crazy special effects that make up the other 90% of the movie, and instead relies on the acting chops of these two lead characters.
It isn’t fair to say that “Super 8” doesn’t take itself seriously because it does. What is great, is that it has an excellent sense of humor about it. Even in the face of the most horrific sights the boys will ever see, they are still mocking each other, keeping it fun for the viewer at all times.
The humor fades late in the film as the forced sub-plots wrap up, but it picks right back up during the credits, when the audience gets to see the finished zombie film the boys created. Super 8 could have benefitted from Abrams allowing the humor to continue through the entire third act, but instead, the finale is the weakest part of the movie.
It is impossible to avoid comparisons to The Goonies and E.T.: Super 8 feels like a modern take on those stories due to a similar spirit, and atmosphere. Though it won’t be held in as high regard as either of those two films in thirty years, Super 8 still has a charm, and sense of humor – not to mention soundtrack – that are seldom seen today.
Super 8 is a perfect example of a movie that thrives in a theatrical setting. The explosions are loud, the visuals big, the story epic. For someone who has never seen The Goonies or E.T. in movie theatres, Super 8 is the next best thing. Though it isn’t a perfect film, Super 8 is excellent fodder for the summer campfire. [via The New York Times, Inside pulse, The Telegraph]