Super 8 (2011)

Movie Photo
IMDb Rating
7.1 out of 10 (view IMDb page)

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

  • Not Rated Yet
(Based on 0 Ratings)
MPAA Rating:
112 Minutes
Mystery, Sci, Thriller
J.J. Abrams

Weekly Volcano's Review

Rev. Adam McKinney on June 8th, 2011

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It's a sad position I've been placed in by Super 8: on the one hand, it is a good movie. It has all of the enjoyable elements of a good, summer popcorn flick. On the other hand, I must recognize its goodness comes as such a relief because it exists as a standalone film, and not as part of a franchise (as seemingly every movie I've seen for the past few months has been).

But, while it is an original film, it is not an original film, if you get my meaning.

The critical shorthand that reviewers use will surely mention the combination of movies like The Goonies and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Steven Spielberg being the producer, aliens are bound to be involved). These comparisons will be true - which is not to say this is a bad thing. Sure, Super 8 is compiled from scraps of earlier movies, but this is mostly taken as reverential nods to those classics.

Super 8 opens in 1979, as the soon-pubescent Joe (Joel Courtney) and his friends work to finish up a low-budget zombie flick on their Super 8 camera. Mere months earlier, Joe's mother was killed in an industrial accident, leaving him to deal with his father, with whom Joe has very little in common. Joe's dad disapproves of his interest in filmmaking (somewhat bewilderingly, although fathers in coming-of-age films generally disapprove of whatever their child is interested in, short of baseball).

While filming a scene by the railroad tracks, Joe and his buddies witness a train crash, narrowly dodging hurling train cars and debris. After escaping with their lives, they do the only natural thing, which is to swear that they will never tell their parents, even as signs that the train crash wasn't an accident (and what that means for their quaint little town) begin to emerge.

Soon, it becomes clear to us that something not quite savory was in one of those cars, and it has been unleashed upon the town. Dogs disappear in droves - as do microwaves, car engines and women with rollers in their hair. Very strange, indeed. Even stranger is director J.J. Abrams' disturbing love affair with lens flares, as noted repeatedly in the recent Star Trek reboot. I mean, I can empathize with him - lens flares are cool and pretty and all that - but in every scene everywhere? Oy, gevalt. My eyes, they strain from too many blue streaks on the screen!

It would be unfair to give much more away. The joy is planted firmly in the exploration of these kids, and rarely in the solving of the train's mystery. When the big reveal happens, it doesn't affect us quite as much as those scenes when we get to see kids act honestly, and charmingly, as real kids, just trying to deal with their changing lives and their coming adulthood. If that sounds hokey, well, that's Super 8. You take the cheese with the bad. And, luckily, there's loads more (good) cheese here than bad. - Three stars

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