Super 8 (2011) Review

Director: J.J. Abrams

Runtime: 1h 52mins

Cast: Joel Courtney, Ryan Lee, Zach Mills, Riley Griffiths, Gabriel Basso, Elle Fanning, et al…

Plot (taken from IMDb): During the summer of 1979, a group of friends witness a train crash and investigate subsequent unexplained events in their small town.


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Do you enjoy films full of screaming children? If your answer to that question is yes, read on, if your answer is no, stop now. J.J. Abrams’ answer to The Goonies is a decent flick filled with quality performances from all its young cast.

While filming a scene for their upcoming zombie blockbuster (somewhere between a Romero picture and a 1950s sci-fi horror), a group of young filmmakers witness a terrible train crash, with a very mysterious cause. The government move in to try and tackle the mother of all cover-ups surrounding a bloodthirsty alien. It’s simple enough stuff, but it’s executed rather well.

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We don’t see the alien monster too often, catching glimpses of it just before or just after a violent event, but we are constantly made aware of its presence. It devours the landscape and destroys all in its path, killing all in its path. It’s all very Cloverfield, but I think the main reason we don’t see much of the monster to begin with is because the design is so ludicrously dull. We get to see what’s really been happening, but the townsfolk are left to figure it out all for themselves. While it’s all hush-hush, our intrepid group of teenage filmmakers are keen to get to the bottom of it all, but for different reasons.

One wants to make a film as good as he can, but Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) is seemingly in it for the puntang. For him, that’s Elle Fanning’s character, Alice Dainard: She’s a little older, and her dad shares a seriously fractured relationship with Joe’s father, the cop. This is obviously a match that was doomed from the start. The plot focusses around the escapades of Joe and his dad, Deputy Jackson Lamb (Kyle Chandler), who both go their different ways to search for the truth of what’s really going on in their town.

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It’s also full of lens flare.

Super 8 is an intriguing film, and it’s central characters are strong, brought to the fore by some quality acting. The core cast is very good, and the bonds between the group of teenagers is likable, built on realistic dialogue and natural interaction. There are muted laughs, scares and even some feels along the way, too, but it all goes on too long. Super 8 struggles with its pacing. At times it can be blistering, but in others it can feel too slow. I feel like a leaner cut could have ironed out some of its pacing issues. Constantly hearing children scream though? That’s a problem no amount of cuts could’ve solved, eugh.


3.5/5

Super 8 is an enjoyable film, with several strong performances from its young cast, but there are better films out there.

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