Super 8 (2011)

Written & Directed by J.J. Abrams

Here comes the long awaited secret project by J.J. Abrams (“Lost”, “Fringe”, “Alias”, Star Trek) and Steven Spielberg (Close Encounters, E.T., Jurassic Park, etc.). I cannot think of a better pair to collaborate on a film like this. Spielberg is the sci-fi master, and Abrams has been a master of imagination in recent years. He has made his name on television, but has shown he is a capable director of the big screen. The project was kept pretty secretive, which is why I was somewhat disappointed when more extensive trailers started coming out, but honestly, they did a good job of not spoiling a whole lot with the trailers.

Without touching on any major plot points, the film revolves around a group of kids that like to make movies. Charles is the director, but at the center of this story is Joe. Joe is he son of the town’s deputy and has recently lost his mother in a factory accident. They recruit Alice to help them in their movie, but when there is a train derailment at the train station they are shooting, the plot thickens and a great mystery is sprung. Strange things begin happening all over small town, Ohio. I really shouldn’t say more.

This movie is a straight throwback, nostalgia, summer movie. It takes place in 1979 and they do a good job of recreating the time with costumes, hair, and music. It really seems like the right time for this film to happen. In addition the sci-fi feel is played magnificently. The tension and excitement are carried all the way through, including some extremely well executed action scenes as well as massively tense scenes. The direction of Abrams is brilliant, even if he cuts down on the lens flares from Star Trek. The cinematography is good. With Steven Spielberg producing, it is no surprise to see great lighting throughout, even for a film set predominately at night/

What makes Super 8 great is simply a great story and great storytelling. The story, which is fueled by the group of kids, all of whom deliver great performances, especially Joel Courtney and Elle Fanning, is exactly what summer blockbusters should be. The film is rated PG-13, but with the kids at the center, kids will dig this. There is also plenty to entertain the adults, including the massively funny and entertaining kids, but great drama is infused into this movie by the great storytelling of Abrams. There is the intriguing teacher, the military mystery, the father-son, father-daughter problems, the budding romance, and the friendships that will last a lifetime.

Super 8 is the type of movie you will see over and over again because it is so great, but also because it feels so familiar for some reason. I just saw it last night and I already feel like it has been a part of my life for years. There seems to be nothing more of it to ask. It may have been a bit unbelievable at times, and there are a few instances that seem more than unlikely. But I am willing to forgive Abrams these because in return I got a spectacular cinematic experience with a story great enough to trump these trivial things any day of the week, and twice on opening day Fridays.

P.S. Stay for the end credits. You won’t regret it.

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