Movie Review: Super 8 (2011)

Posted: April 16, 2012 in Drama


Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) is a teenager in Ohio in 1979.  He has lost his mother in a factory accident and his relationship with his dad, Jackson (Kyle Chandler) is tenuous.  Joe escapes his melancholy by making home movies with his friends, Charles (Riley Griffiths) the writer and director of a school project, Cary (Ryan Lee) who has an unhealthy fixation with fireworks, Martin (Gabriel Basso) the tall leading man, and Preston (Zach Mills).  The leading lady is being played by Alice Dainer (Elle Fanning) who Joe is immediately smitten by.  When Charles wants to film at a train station for “production values,” the teens witness a train accident.  Joe sees that the accident is caused by the school’s science teacher, Dr. Woodward.  (Glynn Thurman)as the kids run away from the accident, their super 8 film keeps rolling. What does the film capture?  Why would the science teacher cause a train accident? Why is the Air Force the first at the scene?

I liked this movie, sure it’s reminiscent of Speilberg classics like Close Encounters, or even ET, but it holds up and is different enough to stand on its own. Yes, the love story between Joe and Alice seems a bit too much like Romeo and Juliet, and the Air Force does seem a bit like the Keystone Kops compared to these smart kids, but really it’s a movie, so reality has to be suspended for a little while.  What makes this movie stand out is the acting, especially from the teens.  Elle Fanning is superb for such a young actress, and puts emotion in her scenes of an actress  years more mature than her years.  Joel Courtney is also superb as the young, sensitive Joe Lamb.  There is palpable tension between Joe and his father, and Courtney plays those scenes just right, quietly rebellious, and Kyle Chandler plays those scenes just right too. Good for him.  This is a sci-fi  movie for a generation who’s never heard of Close Encounters, and it inspires a new generation to grab a camera and start filming, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Super 8.   Super.


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