SUPER 8 Review

Audiences of all ages will enjoy "Super 8". If you are of the generation this is inspired by you will be induced with a great amount of nostalgia (Spielberg even throws the classic Amblin emblem in front of this one) and if you are of the generation in between (as I am) or are the same age of the main characters here you will simply be transported back to a time when things just seemed less chaotic. This J.J. Abrams picture, heavily influenced by the young ensemble adventures of Spielberg's early days is a welcome treat in a summer filled with superhero films and sequels. To be able to have a cool, entertaining sci-fi flick hit the theaters and truly experience raw escapism for nearly two hours is what the movies are really about. I have put full trust and will look forward to anything Abrams does after he made me a "Star Trek" fan two years ago (I had never seen an episode or movie before) and with this follow-up he not only collaborates with a legendary mentor to create what will no doubt be the most originally thrilling film of the summer, but probably the most heartwarming as well.
The top-secret story is a bit of a let-down in terms of what lengths they went to with the marketing campaign, but it's not like we couldn't have guessed what was coming the moment that second trailer was released. And though in the latter half of the film the creature that is hidden within the train that derails early in the film dominates the stories attention it is without a doubt the relationship between the young cast that allow this movie to rise above a campy homage to films of yesteryear a la "The Goonies" and "ET". From the first shot of the film we dive into that Spielbergian universe where kids are smarter than the adults that surround them and their are relationships galore that must be mended, reconciled, and formed.

At the center of all this is 14 year-old Joe Lamb, played by wonderfully natural newcomer Joel Courtney. Joe lost his mother only four months ago and has a "real men don't cry" type relationship with his deputy dad. As Mr. Jackson Lamb, Kyle Chandler demonstrates a restraint that lends to creating not just another stock father/son relationship, but one that elicits more from non verbal facial expressions than corny dialogue. Joe is currently helping his friend Charles finish a monster movie which of course leads to them to witnessing a massive train wreck that unlocks a few mysteries that will get them into more trouble when they have no choice but to investigate them further. Joe's gang of friends, led by the bossy Charles and rounded out with the firework obsessed Cary, the cautious Martin, the laid back Preston, and Alice as the object of Joe's affection are the true heart of this movie. Alice is from the wrong side of the tracks and her mysterious father shares a link to Joe's deceased mother, but as inhabited by the amazing Elle Fanning, Alice and Joe become friends with just the right amount of childhood wonder and curiosity. What the film does best is to strike that almost perfect balance between the sci-fi monster movie and the childhood experience that was clearly the inspiration for this whole thing.

Abrams combines these two opposite sides of fantastical memories to create a film that will not only move his career even further in the positive direction but it is made with such wonder, such love for the art that we can so easily enjoy it because we can feel with how much love this thing was made. "Super 8" is that rare film where you can feel the director's hand in crafting it to be exactly as he saw it in his mind. Giving this group of kids a naturalistic flow, an undeniable chemistry that makes it feel like there was hardly any writing done for the movie, that it really is just peeking in on these young teenagers, ignorant to the ways of the world, as they interact with one another and take the set backs they are dealt with a grain of salt. With a perfect blend of comedy, action, and drama this represents the perfect recipe for a summer blockbuster. It is the icing on the cake this movie is smart, well-made, and put together by ow of the greater minds in film making. I enjoyed "Super 8" thoroughly or, as Charlie would say, "It was totally mint!"