Super 8

Super 8

In Theatres: 
Jun 10, 2011

In the final scene, there's a jewelry store on the left called "James Locke Jeweler". John Locke was a major character of J.J Abrams' produced series, Lost.

 A year and a half. 18 months. From the moment that the name "Super 8" is announced, hype and expectations begin to swirl into a whirlwind of excitement. Of course, a new J.J Abrams project means plenty of viral marketing, but it also means a chance for the world to be swept up in a world of creativity and wonder. Whether you're a fan of any Abrams projects or never heard his name, his productions have an amount of respect deserved. So with all the hype and expectations building up over 18 months, does Super 8 deliver?

It's the summer of 1979. For Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney), it's like any other day. Sadly, most days are like the others since the death of his mother four months prior. Left under the supervision of his emotionally-absent father, Deputy Jackson Lamb (Kyle Chandler), Joe doesn't spend much time at home. Instead, he helps his best friend Charles (Riley Griffiths) film his zombie movie with Martin (Gabriel Basso), Preston (Zach Mills), Cary (Ryan Lee) and Alice (Elle Fanning). But when a train derails while the gang is filming at the station, mysterious things start happening to their town of Lillian, Ohio. Power lines disappear, car engines are stolen and local dogs are found in different counties. Things only become more confusing when military officials turn the town upside down looking for someone. Or something. 

This is as much information as I can give out without really feeling like I've ruined much for the story. Because, the truth is, Super 8 is phenomenal. It's spectacular. It's what I, as a film-nerd, have been waiting for. J.J Abrams brings us a story of a son lost in a world of confusion, just trying to survive by surrounding himself with what makes him happy: Friends and movies. The absence of emotion between Jackson and Joe constantly drives Jackson to become more passionate in his work. Whenever Joe needs comforting, his father can be found in town answering numerous local disturbances. The relationships are what makes Super 8 really work. And not just between father and son. The friendship between the five boys bring the majority of humor and smiles that Super 8 has to offer. Martin is a little too serious, Preston is constantly terrified and Cary can be found attempting to blow something up with one of his many fireworks. The relationship between Charles and Joe, however, is what brings the audience close to a real friendship. The best thing Super 8 does with their friendship is not revealing exactly why they're best friends. Joe is easy-going while Charles is a bit bossy. From the outside, it seems like a destructive friendship. But throughout the story, things begin to explain why the two are so close. The glory of it all is that these aren't force-fed to the audience. It's something to be found behind the surface. 

But of course, this isn't all Super 8 is. While the relationships and interaction between the characters are the larger focus of the film, Super 8 has the fantastic idea of putting all this drama in front of mass destruction. At its heart, the film is very much an adventure. Watching these friends dodging everything from derailing train cars to misfiring tanks gets the heart going more than any film has in recent memory. The mystery of Super 8 flows at an enjoyably patient rate. As it should. J.J Abrams could release certain plot points early in the story, but he would suffer from making the idea seem a little too unbelievable. Thankfully, Abrams is a professional and knows what he's doing. Not every moment hits as well as one would like it to, but the majority of the scenes race past the others with flying colors. 

At the risk of spoiling anything about the film, I can't say much more. This is a film that deserves as little of a backstory as possible. Watching any of the original promotion done for Super 8 prior to 2 months ago won't harm the experience in the slightest. Unfortunately, with promotion and marketing hitting where it needs to for opening weekend, many trailers and viral videos are being released and contain numerous scenes that sour some of the more engaging and surprising twists in the story. To get the richest experience out of Super 8, any and all trailers should be avoided. In this scenario, many would worry that a film can only be enjoyable on the first viewing if the twists are what keeps it interesting and fresh. Thankfully, I've had the pleasure of watching Super 8 twice and I can honestly say that I enjoyed it as much the second time as I did the first. The twists are just as intriguing as the characters and that's a trick most films can't pull off. 

Thanks to wonderful performances and believable characters, Super 8 is one of the best films of the year and wins a place very close to my heart. To put it simply, Super 8 puts the "super" in superb. 

Ryan Sterritt
Review by Ryan Sterritt
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