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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
An Air Force man is seen talking into a WWII-era hand-held walkie-talkie. In 1979 the military used the PRC-77 radio, which would be worn on the back and used a handset much like a telephone's. See more »
In 1979, in the fictional town of Lillian, Ohio, a preteen boy named Joe Lamb is trying to cope with the recent death of his mother, who was killed in a factory accident. Much to the frustration of his father, the town's deputy sheriff, Joe copes by immersing himself in a project lead by his best friend, Charles. That project is a horror film, shot on a SUPER 8 camera, and Charles has enlisted the help of not only Joe, but the rest of his misfit friends, and has surprised everyone by talking Alice Dainard, the prettiest girl in school, into playing the hero's wife. On the night of the first big shoot, the would be filmmaker witness a train crash. Pretty soon, the town of Lillian is swarmed by military men, who won't tell anybody what is going on. Abrams and Spielberg may be the only two people in Hollywood who still know how to keep a secret, so I won't spoil that by going into the plot too much further. But I will say that Super 8 lives up to every bit of hype and expectation surrounding it. This is a beautifully crafted, emotional, funny, scary, thrilling movie that enthralls an audience the ways Spielberg's 80s classics did. And this is coming from someone who has been accused of "worshipping" Spielberg. Abrams has recreated the look and feel of vintage Spielberg expertly, down to the last detail. For a Spielberg fan, it's an absolute joy to behold.
But Abrams somehow manages to do this without completely sacrificing his own unique voice as a filmmaker. It's got the twists and turns of Lost, the personality of his Star Trek, and, like most Abrams projects, a leading lady who propels the whole thing. In this case, it's young Elle Fanning, who, as Alice, projects such a genuine combination of childlike innocence and ahead of her years maturity, that you can't take her eyes off of her whenever she's on screen. The entire cast is terrific, especially Joel Courtney as Joe, and Riley Griffiths as Charles, but Fanning steals the movie. We become completely involved with these characters in a way we rarely do with adult Hollywood heroes. I found myself caring every bit as much about the budding romance between Alice and Joe as I did the more spectacular events of the film.
And it is spectacular. Abrams and Spielberg give us action/suspense scenes that evoke Spielberg's classics Jaws, Jurassic Park, and E.T. They also come as close to the emotion of E.T. as any film of this type has done since then. Super 8 is the kind of film for which the cliché "You''ll laugh, you'll cry" was invented. If you're a child of the 80s and complain that they don't make movies the way they did when you were a kid, well, Abrams and Spielberg have done exactly that.And Michael Giacchino further establishes himself as one of the best film composers to come along in years. His score soars with emotions and build suspense in the vein of (of course) John Williams.
I also have to take a moment, as former amateur child filmmaker, to talk about how well rendered that aspect of the story is. It certainly added an extra level of enjoyment for me that I vividly remember the days of trying to make my own blockbusters with nothing but a camera, a few friends, and wildly overactive imagination.
It's worth mentioning, by way of warning (especially to parents) that Super 8 is rated PG-13 for a reason, namely the intensity, and for an E.T./Goonies like tendency to have the kids swear. Most audiences will get past this, but certainly some will not, and I'm absolving myself of any complaints.
Movies like this are the reason I love movies. In an age when trailers give away everything, Super 8 unfolds before us, capturing us in its spell, and never letting go. It's an unforgettable movie experience. A film to be treasured,
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