MOVIE REVIEW: A Second Look at ‘Super 8’

Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) and his friends witness a horrific train crash as they film their B movie short: before long their hometown is over run with the US army, strange happenings and mysterious phenomenon. It is up to the kids to investigate.

Super 8 has received a lot of hype. It feels like the first teaser trailer was released several years ago, and we have been waiting for this movie for a long time. The good news is… The hype has been justified.

The story is similar to that of ET; The Extra Terrestrial, but this film is much more grown up. Elliot was friends with the alien he encountered, it was small and cute enough to keep at home without any fear. Super 8 is ET’s big brother. The alien is big, he’s mad as hell and he’s not going to take it any more. The kids are fascinated and terrified of him. The adults are just terrified.

Super 8 borrows from all the great films of our past; there are touches of The Goonies, Flight of the Navigator, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and just about every other sci-fi film you can remember from your childhood. This is where the movie excels. It taps into everything we are nostalgic for in our past and makes it larger than life on the screen; kids on bikes, first crushes, walkmans (walkmen?) and the feeling that everything we could possibly want was within the small world of our home town. As well as the movies we watched so much we wore out the VHS, Super 8 also incorporates fantastic events from the past, including the nuclear event at Three Mile Island and hints of the fascinating story of the underground fire in Centralia, Pennsylvania that has been burning since the 1960s.

Without the fantastic performances from the kids at the centre of the film, it would have fallen flat on its face, but they are relatable, funny and sweet. Their innocence, wonder and surprise are the anchor that keeps the film grounded. There has been speculation that the story is too slow, and the audience waits too long to see even a glimpse of the alien, but this is not the point. The mystery is what keeps the story going and the audience interested. The close encounter at the end of the film is merely the icing on the cake. The point of the story is not seeing the alien, knowing where it came from or why it came to earth in the first place, it is remembering what it was like to be a child, to have that sense of wonder and remembering the fervent wish we all had in our hearts that something amazing would happen and catapult us off into the adventure of a lifetime.

Super 8 is the film the summer has been waiting for. After the disappointments of The Green Lantern, Captain America and countless others, audiences have finally been given the blockbuster they deserve. Super 8 is a fantastically made, touching, funny sweet, popcorn munching, sci-fi rollercoaster that delivers the mystery, laughs, jumps and misty eyes that any big film aspires to. It is supremely enjoyable and while slightly hokey at times, will leave the audience smiling long after the brilliant credits sequence has finished.

GS Reviewer: Brogen Hayes

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  1. Christophe Montoya /

    Great review, far better than mine…

  2. My super8 seems a want and I can not. An attempt to approach the spirit of film style eighties Goonies or ET, but it remains just that, a try.
    The story is hackneyed to the utmost and the characters of children are archetypal ad nauseam: the fat smartass, the bastard little guy, the protagonist who has just suffered a disgrace and the pretty girl.
    Is entertaining, but of course, any comparison with the aforementioned ET, The Goonies and Stand by Me, for example, is a real insult.

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