Fans of “Lost” can rejoice – J.J. Abrams is capable of bringing that series’ same type of storytelling to the big screen. Mysterious and tense, “Super 8” is a successful throwback to producer Steven Spielberg’s early work.
In the summer of 1979, a group of friends in a small Ohio town witness a catastrophic train crash while making a super 8 movie and soon suspect that it was not an accident. Shortly after, unusual disappearances and inexplicable events begin to take place in town, and the local deputy tries to uncover the truth – something more terrifying than any of them could have imagined. (Written by Official site)
Despite the whimsical, less intense nature of previous Spielberg films such as “E.T.,” “Super 8” is not a family-friendly affair. Several parents who brought young children to the screening commented that they were going to be warding off their children’s nightmares for the rest of the night. The creature that is unleashed is PG-13 scary, but Abrams returns to his bag od “Lost” tricks, blindsiding the audience with action and violence that is intense almost to the point of brutality at times. The train crash scene is so over-the-top it might be almost comical if not for the carnage that is unleashed. Add to that an endless series of off-screen horrors, explosions, language, and violence and one wonders how they slipped it under the PG-13 rating bar.
Despite the violence, the mostly unknown cast is surprisingly stunning in their performance. The writing is well done and the actors bounce lines off one another with the cool confidence of veterans. The cantankerous interchanges between the group of protagonist boys injects much needed levity into the script. That banter is one of the closest depictions of how teen boys talk in the real world ever captured on film.
That is not to say all the writing is stellar. The ending begs for someone to stand up in the back of the theater and scream SYMBOLISM! All the characters are essentially one dimensional. There are attempts to add depth, but those subplots never pan out, losing out in the interest of moving the larger story along. In truth, the strength of the main story is enough to make the film enjoyable, but that detail is what makes the film very good instead of great.
You can always tell a good film by how quickly the ending seems to come. Time seemed to fly by due to the simple enjoyment of the story. Similar in many ways to “Cloverfield” with a touch of Spielberg influence mixed in, “Super 8” delivers a rocket ride to begin the summer.
“See It/ Rent It/ Skip It”: See it. Learn new ways to insult your friends via clever banter.
THREE AND A HALF STARS out of four.
Written and Directed by J.J. Abrams
Runtime: 1 hour and 52 minutes