Starring: Joel Courtney, Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, Joel McKinnon Miller, Riley Griffiths, Ryan Lee, Gabriel Basso, Zach Mills, Jessica Tuck, Ron Eldard, Glynn Turman, Noah Emmerich, Bruce Greenwood, and more.
Directed by: JJ Abrams Written by: JJ Abrams Original Music by: Michael Giacchino
Premise: A group of kids, out at night trying to film a zombie movie for a contest, witness a train crash and catch some of it on film. Then strange things begin happening around town.
Review: From the first time I saw a preview, the movie screamed ET remake. But a more serious, grittier, uglier ET remake. And it was, which was fine by me.
Special effects, as with all Spieldberg productions, were superb. What was interesting, however, was the filming style. They went back and used a look from the old days – don’t know if it was old equipment or just new equipment that can do old style or what, but I noticed it right away. It was almost as if on several levels, the film was full of in-jokes for filmmakers, taking them back to their roots. You’ll notice these extended light bands on the screen on night scenes, which were prevalent during Spieldberg’s super hey day films like ET and Close Encounters of the Third kind. So JJ dod some homage to him, but also to himself and others and all their efforts back when they first got started making movies in 8mm and creating the cheapest types of films you could get away with, like horror/zombie films. (Bruce Campbell’s book If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor goes into a lot of the youthful movie making attempts by him, Sam Raimi, and Robert Tapert, and I could see the same energy/need/excitement with the kids in the film. Quite fun!)
There are several subplots thrown into the mix of the main mystery, which eventually cross as matters unfold and the characters grow. Several of these subplots aren’t spoken of directly, but are well shown for us to pick up, rather than be told. And not everything is exactly as it might appear either.
The kids were great! Joel Courtney was excellent as Joe Lamb. Elle Fanning thrilling as Alice, making it especially fun when out of the filming group, Alice is actually the only one who can act. Riley Griffiths and Ryan Lee are great comic relief foils. Felt sorry for Gabriel Baso as not only did he have to wear the dorkiest pair of glasses on the planet, but has to prove his skills in barfing, not once but twice! Heh heh.
Unlike the original ET, the extra terrestrial in Super 8 is mostly sensed and not seen or even directly involved with most of the action. The only shortcoming, in my opinion, was that a skill given to the escapee and a pivotal reason matters unfolded as they did in the first place, would have made a few choices it made later rather hard to believe, but then again I wasn’t the one kept by the government. Our original ET might not have been so sweet and just wanting to phone home if he’d had the same treatment as this extra terrestrial.
The films starts slow as it weaves daily life for us and then picks up lots of speed. The main baddy, Nelek, could have used more rounding, but Noah Emmerich worked quite well with what he was given. My new catch phrase will have to be “Production Value” lol. You’ll understand when you see it.
Overall it was a very enjoyable film. And make sure to stay for the credits as you’ll get a treat.
Rating: 4 out of 5. (Hubby’s rating: Worth full price of Admission.)