Charles enlists the help of his friends, including Joe Lamb, to shoot a short movie. Hoping to enter the film into a competition, Charles seeks production values. Shooting a scene at night, the young teens witness a terrifying train crash. Following this, mysterious incidents take place in the town, as Joe and friends try to investigate what has occurred…
Super 8 is a fantastically well constructed film. Like the best blockbuster movies, Abram’s film effectively combines action-adventure, comedy and science fiction. These elements work well together; Super 8 has the ability to shift between comedy and tension seamlessly.
The film displays some sentimentalism. This is not particularly surprising, given Spielberg’s involvement. Moreover, these moments are well executed and are in keeping with the overall feel of the film. The sentimentalism never really veers into cheese territory.
The sense of mystery works well in Super 8. The contents of the train is not revealed initially, leading the main characters and the viewers to question the army’s involvement as well as the strange occurrences. It is a significant way into the film before more details are revealed, which keeps viewers guessing as to if or how the supernatural comes into play.
The influence of Spielberg’s films from the 1970s and 1980s is made very apparent in Super 8. The mystery over the cause of events is reminiscent of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The camaraderie of the group of kids harks back to E.T. and the Spielberg-produced The Goonies. The references are visual as well as thematic, with the running in the train crash sequence harking back to an infamous Raiders of the Lost Ark scene. Furthermore, the references to George A. Romero are a nice touch. Abrams pays homage to his influences in the best possible way; overtly and slightly in awe, but blended seamlessly into the action.
The effects used in the film are first rate. Super 8 has a polished overall look, again harking back to Spielberg’s earlier blockbusters. The sound is suitably consuming. Michael Giacchino’s score is apt, although a section sounds very similar to Danny Elfman’s Nightmare Before Christmas theme.
The comedy in the film is effective thanks to Abrams’ script and the very natural interaction of the young teens. Performances are great all round, with Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning and Riley Griffiths standing out in particular. Kyle Chandler, meanwhile, looks every inch the late-1970s dad as Jackson Lamb.
Abrams’ film is highly recommended, and will likely be remembered as one of the year’s best movies. Super 8 is simply a delight.