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Jay’s Movie Review: “Super 8″ is Super Enjoyable

It’s the summer movie season. “Event” movies are being released almost every week. Unfortunately, the number of releases this summer forces the casual moviegoer to be discriminating in their selection. Even the hard-core movie lovers must be careful not to blow their proverbial entertainment load too early in the season. I guess it is the same every summer and holiday season; it just makes it easy to miss good films because we spent the money to see the latest uber-hyped remake or sequel.

Someday, maybe I’ll be considered important enough to receive media passes for films, but while tickets are on my dime, there are times when the cinema trips will be sparse, as I’m sure is the case with many.

The latest movie to catch my interest and to receive my money was Super 8. I remember seeing the teaser trailer what feels like a year ago. A crashed train car, metallic banging – door flies off and something large climbs out.

The thing I thought was great about this one is that the actual story was kept somewhat under wraps until right before release. The marketing campaign relied heavily on the names of writer and director J.J. Abrams and producer Steven Spielberg.


Super 8 centers on a group of kids in 1979 who, while filming a zombie movie on their super 8 camera, witness a horrific, non-accidental train crash (read – visually awesome). It turns out that the train was a military train, transporting some strange cube shaped, metallic objects as well as the aforementioned “something large”.

Super 8 is much more than a monster movie, though. It is a good story, aside from the monster aspect. It is a story of friendship and loss and how a few young people try to help a young person move on after tragedy. It is the story of how a man tries to cope with loss as well as being thrust into a situation for which he has no frame of reference.

Elle Fanning stands out as Alice Dainard, a girl caught between acceptance and her father’s guilt. Kyle Chandler plays the grieving Deputy Jackson Lamb and the heretofore unknown Joel Courtney plays his son Joe, our main character of sorts.

The few complaints I have heard about this one center on the lens flares and the appearance of the monster, neither of which bothered me at all.

If you like Abrams, monsters, kids or movies, go see this one. I think this is one that deserves to be seen in the theater.

How much would I pay to see this one again? Out of $10, I’d pay $9.75. Go for Abrams and Spielberg, stay for the story and the credits.

Jay Fralick is the co-host of the Wanna Watch a Movie? Podcast

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14 comments

  • I too loved this movie. It was just plain fun. The cast of kids is UNBELIEVABLY good. espeically the lead actor. Wow. Very fun summer movie.

    And stay for the credits!

  • Kevin W: go with Super 8. Im stoked for Green Lantern and cant wait to see it but early geek buzz isnt really that good. With Super 8 i can give my 100% nerdist backing that you’ll have a good time.

    Super 8 is a wonderful movie. Yes it has alot (A LOT) of similar setups/feelings of old school Speilberg flicks but thats a good thing, not a bad as some critics would claim. The kids are amazing. The story is tons of fun. And the credit sequence pay-off is worth the price of admission alone. It rocks.

  • I couldn’t help but be underwhelmed after Fringe and Cloverfield, especially when it got to the end. It just feels like this kind of story and theme is… dated. Not so much a homage as it is an exhuming.

    I guess I just didn’t expect it to be so… 80’s Spielberg. Too saccharine and disjointed for Abrams, or for me. I’m glad other people are enjoying it, though!

  • Saw this tonight in a very full theater (early show, Hanover NH).

    LOVED IT. Great movie start to finish and the performances, particularly from the kids, are fantastic. Looking forward to owning the BluRay…. this one is a keeper.

  • I saw a sneak preview and loved it! Sure, it was a love letter to Steven Speilberg, but it was the kind that you read over and over until your last days. Everybody bitched about lack of payoff, but the adventure was the whole point! Fantastic and made me feel like movies from the 80’s do

  • I’m sorry but I absolutely hated this movie during the 3rd act. I’m not going to go into super detail here but if you haven’t seen the movie YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! THIS COULD RUIN SOMETHING FOR YOU!

    The first 2/3rds of this film are borderline perfect. I don’t mind the lens flare at all, I love the visual style and the story telling here. The coming of age story alone would be enough to keep me involved but then there’s this great mystery about this creature that is also equally intriguing and kept me wanting to know more… and then the two stories meet and it is a master piece of vader pussy (*read as cluster fuck).

    The entire third act where this coming age tale about these rival fathers and their kids come together and acceptance is great, and then the monster element fits and it is this massively misguided attempt at creating a jaws like character and then demanding the audience feel the same way they did about King Kong. He’s a terrorizing havoc creating people eating beast and now we’re supposed to feel something for it? That’s bad story telling.

    The way this this is fully introduced in the final act involves seeing this thing grip a human leg by the ankle and chow down on it like it’s a fucking drum stick from KFC! And then literally moments after that we’re supposed not see it as a terrifying creature? Sorry but that’s bullshit. That’s bad story telling. There are too many mixed messages here.

    Also let’s go with Joe and his communication with this thing… they don’t match up. I’m not going into specifics again here but Joe is dealing with some pretty heavy shit in his life, and while it’s only been four months, he’s actually handling his shit pretty damn well. He’s got his locket, he’s handling his sense of grief and loss better than most kids his age, and better than even his father is. He’s not a social fuck tard. The girl in the film, Alice however is dealing with a situation of being terrorized and verbally and emotionally abused. That related a fuck ton of a lot more to the monster creature’s story in fact it parelels it almost exactly in the second act and that’s where the story takes it mistep.

    J.J. had a magic chance to turn the story on it’s head in the best way and make the girl the lead of the story or at least on equal importance to Joe’s character and instead he pushes full force into one of the sappiest most misguided endings in recent memory.

    You know the shot I’m talking about too. we’ll call it the “letting go” scene. Not needed and completely destroyed in it’s simplicity, beauty and elegance by one last hurrah of destruction and chaos.

    I heard in an interview on NPR that J.J. Abrams had this as two different stories in his mind and they both come from a similar place, his childhood. If you’ve never seen Abrams TED TALK I recommend googling it because it is one of the most inspirational talks any creative person could ever hear. He talks about the mystery box which is essentially the ethos for how he makes his movies. He also talks about his grandfather giving him a super 8 camera as a young boy. He then goes into showing a scene from Jaws where Cheif Brody is sitting down at the dinner table and asks his son for a kiss and his wife is looking on at him and her son from the kitchen and it’s a beautiful moment.

    These are all ideas that clearly went into making Super8 and this was a talk from 5 years ago just after he finished making Mission Impossible 3. I truly wish Abrams had made a monster movie, and a coming of age tale as two separate films because that’s how they feel here. He has his law officer trying to take down the big monster who we never truly see while at the same time having a boy making movies with his friends… they don’t necessarily belong together.

    That being said I also saw the film in D-Box which was one of the best coding I’d seen yet and the film is beautifully made, brilliantly acted and I think Elle Fanning is a far better actor than her sister is at this point (yeah she was good in Sam I Am… then what? Twilight? Fuck off!).

    Anyway I understand entirely why people like the film, and I’m really rambling now… sorry.