Banner

McCoy on Movies: Super 8 Movie Review

McCoy on Movies: Super 8 Movie Review
 J.J. Abrams is back with a Steven Spielberg-approved tale about a mysterious incident in a fictional Ohio town. But will this movie put its young stars on the map? Click here and find out!
"Dude - I thought I was just auditioning for a commercial, not working with J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg!" Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney, in the foreground) expresses his surprise/disbelief in a scene from SUPER 8.
Credit: François Duhamel. © 2011 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

 

KEY CAST MEMBERS: Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, Riley Griffiths,Ron Eldard, Gabriel Basso, Joel Courtney, Noah Emmerich, Richard T. Jones, Glynn Turman, Jessica Tuck, Amanda "AJ" Michalka, Ryan Lee, Zach Mills, Joel McKinnon Miller, Andrew Miller, Jakob Miller and Britt Flamo

 

WRITER: J.J. Abrams

 

DIRECTOR: J.J. Abrams

 

WEB SITE: http://www.super8-movie.com/

 

THE PLOT: Set in the fictional, Dayton-adjacent mill town of Lillian, Ohio at the end of the 1970s/beginning of the 1980s, Super 8 centers around a young boy named Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) and his father Jackson (Kyle Chandler), a sheriff's deputy. Having recently lost the most important woman in their lives to a horrific accident at the mill, both Joe and Jackson are struggling to deal with their loss ... And getting closer as father and son.

 

Away from home is where Joe is most comfortable, spending the majority of his free time hanging out with Charles (Riley Griffiths), his best friend since kindergarten. An aspiring filmmaker hoping to enter a local contest, Charles - along with friends Martin (Gabriel Basso), who doubles as the lead actor in his zombie film, cameraman Preston (Zach Mills) and aspiring explosions expert/pyromania Cary (Ryan Lee) - and Joe (who does makeup effects) get a break when they find a leading lady to play Martin's on-screen wife: Alice Dainard (Elle Fanning), who is the daughter of Louis (Ron Eldard). Why does it matter who her daddy is? Let's just say it comes into play later ... Moving on ...

 

Set to film a critical scene at a local train depot one late night, the crew sees a train approaching in the background - which Charles decides will make for a "mint" authentic backdrop for his film. Joe, however, is the only one who sees a pickup truck driving onto the tracks, causing a spectacular derailment of epic proportions. Surviving the war zone-like impact of the collision, the youths discover the truck is being driven by one of their teachers, Dr. Woodward (Glynn Turman), who somehow has survived only to deliver a grim warning: Leave, don't say anything about what you've seen or "they" will find you and they - along with their parents - will all die.

 

Once an Air Force unit lead by Nelec (Noah Emmerich) swoops in to lockdown the area, suspicions about what really happened - as well as a series of disappearances - send Lillian into a frenzy of "War of the Worlds" like proportions ...

 

THE TAKE: Watching "Super 8," it becomes pretty obvious writer/director J.J. Abrams (Cloverfield) spent many hours - much like the young character of Charles - watching films growing up, aspiring to make his own in the fashion of the young Steven Spielberg (who serves as the film's executive producer). For there are many elements - the dialogue, the pacing, the spectacular nature of the incidents in the film whereas some are small and designed to just make you jump while others are cataclysmic, the interplay between members of a stressed out family, not revealing "the shark" too soon, etc. - that are pure Spielbergian (to invent a word) in their nature.

 

Fortunately, in the case of Super 8 - which could also be described as The Goonies meets a really angry version of E.T. meets Stand By Me meets Jaws (if you just want to be real basic about it - this is not a bad thing. For with Super 8, Abrams has put together a throwback-style film enjoyable for nearly the entire family, save for those with young children who scare easily and/or those who prefer not to have a certain four letter word you can only say once during a PG-13 movie uttered in their presence.

 

The young cast does the majority of the heavy lifting in the film, which works due to the very mature and commanding screen presence exhibited by Griffiths and Fanning, the latter proving she is not living off of her sister Dakota's good name. While Joel Courtney is fine is his role, his other two co-stars steal nearly every scene they are in together, much like John C. Reilly and Anne Heche did opposite Ed Helms in the recently released Cedar Rapids.

 

The acting, of course, would not matter without an interesting story. Keep in mind, however, that is not attempting to be Alien or Iron Man as much as it is some of the previous 70s/80s movies mentioned, so if you're expecting a ton of Transformers style action, you might be best served waiting on something like Transformers: Dark of the Moon (not that I have seen that yet and/or am endorsing that you do). This is more a classic tale of young kids being thrust into an unexpected situation/embarking on a journey where they must be the ones to save the day but can only do so if they grow emotionally into the young adults they will need to be to survive. Thus, if you come in for a simple story time, you will be rewarded as such. If you come in with the wrong set of expectations, you will leave accordingly disappointed.

 

One final note before closing: Super 8 is EXTREMELY loud. How loud, you say? Consider bringing ear plugs to the theater. It'll be the best investment you can make in the film other than eating before going so you can avoid paying the ridiculous concession stand prices.

 

PARTING SHOT: While not quite as classic as the 70s/80s films Spielberg's newfound apprentice seemingly wants to emulate, Super 8 is a good summer film worthy of its weight in popcorn.

 

RATING (OUT OF FOUR POSSIBLE BUCKETS OF POPCORN):

Tabari McCoy -

Tabari McCoy is Cincy Chic's movie critic. You can check out more of his work on his blog at McCoyonMovies.BlogSpot.com and follow him on Twitter at @tabarimccoy

Read More >>


More articles by this author

McCoy on Movies: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I
McCoy on Movies: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I...
Read More >>
McCoy on Movies: Big Hero 6
McCoy on Movies: Big Hero 6It's an animated film based...
Read More >>
 

subscribegraphic

eventsgraphic


Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner