In this edition of jaen’s refrain you’ll find:
- Movie Synopsis
- Movie Review
Super 8 is a thriller/sci-fi/drama directed by J.J. Abrams and set in the summer of 1979 in a small town in Ohio. The main characters are kids; all newcomers with the exception of Alice (played by Elle Fanning, Dakota’s lil’ sis) with big imaginations, and dreams of making a zombie movie. The tone is innocent as the kids navigate the usual growing up stuff until that is, the big train crash. Immediately after, strange things start happening and the whole town is turned upside down.
In the beginning of the movie you are dropped into a house filled with people morning the loss of a central character. The cause and effect of this early demise will create an immense weight on the lives of young Joe (played by Joel Courtney) and his dad, Jackson who is also town deputy (played by Kyle Chandler).
The first thing that struck me (because it’s so well done), was how I was trying to guess the time period in which this movie is set; but soon all is revealed a little at a time by the clothes they wear, the dialogue, the slang, the overall tone and the absolutely best part, the music!
As you meet the kids, it’s clear that they are bonded together tightly by their adventurous spirit, collective talents and their love of movie making with their Super 8 video camera. They are a mixed bag of boys and one very pretty and inspiring budding actress named Alice; who also has access to a car 🙂 I especially love Charles (played by Riley Griffiths) who is the writer and director of the kids forthcoming Zombie feature. One fateful night while shooting an inspired scene, the train accident happens which causes the kids to literally scatter and run for their lives. As the kids collected themselves, they realized they just witnessed something the likes of which can never be spoken of.
Over the next few days, the small town starts to experience strange occurrences and disappearances causing fear and paranoia amongst the townfolk. In time, the kids who know more then the adults will bravely play a big role in what’s to come.
One of my favorite scenes involves Joe, Alice & an emotional mystery that is fully revealed while watching an old home movie clip together. The way J.J. Abrams (blocked) i.e.; physically placed his characters in the scene combined with the simple honest dialogue exchange was so touching.
Abrams did a great job building suspense from start to finish. As with all thrillers, he knows that it’s often what you don’t see or how the audience is teased leading to a big reveal, that is far more effective then showing your whole hand up front.
This film is heartwarming and lovingly nostalgic. The Climatic ending was magical, exciting and left some of us audience members misty eyed and clapping. This was a pretty near perfect movie. Definitely a damn satisfying experience.
It also felt like a bit of an homage to the 2 “Steves”. That is, Spielberg’s “ET” and King’s “Stand By Me”. I didn’t feel however that I was watching a remake or a copy. I recently saw a Super 8 critic (I don’t remember which one) that said of this film, “An instant classic”! I heartily agree!
Bravo Mr. Abrams!
See it on the BIG screen for sure! In theaters now.