Super 8

Director: J.J. Abrams
Producer: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Joel Lamb, Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, Ryan Lee, and Riley Griffiths

E.T., Gremlins, The GooniesThe Karate Kid, Back to the Future, and Poltergiest,  all of these films have a few things in common.  The protagonists were all pre teens or teens, they were all facing extraordinary obstacles, and they all benefited from Steven Spielberg’s involvement.  What the 1980’s lacked in fashion it made up for in the quality of its movies.  Super 8 is a throw back to the films of my childhood and hands down the most fun I have had at the movies in years.

Let me start by saying that this is not a sequel or a remake! This is a new story written and directed by J.J. Abrams (Star Trek and Mission Impossible III).   The 2011 movie season is on record has having the most sequels ever released.  Super 8 is J.J. Abrams love letter to Steven Spielberg.  Anyone who grew up in the 1970’s and 1980’s could not have escaped Spielberg’s influence on culture.  Spielberg's gift as a filmmaker has always been the heart and emotion he is able to convey in his movies.  If you have a heartbeat you are not able to watch one of his films and not have an emotional response.

Super 8 is set in the summer of 1979.  A group of young friends have banded together to make a zombie movie on a super 8 camera.  They sneak out one night to film a scene at the local train depot and witness a horrific train crash that nearly kills them all.  This sequence is merciless and your heart will be pounding.

After the crash, strange things begin happening all over town: dogs disappear, electronic devices and appliances disappear, and worst of all people begin to disappear.  The military arrives to clean up the mess but a local deputy, played by Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights), knows that they are harboring a secret.   The deputy’s son, Joe, is the heart of the story and played by newcomer Joel Courtney.  Joe is recovering from the loss of his mother and his father's emotional distance.  Joe's crush for Alice, played by Elle Fanning (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), is the one bright spot in his gloomy life.  The humor in Super 8 is timed perfectly and laugh out loud funny.  Ryan Lee is a complete scene stealer.  He plays Cary a young man with huge braces and a love for all things fire.  The chemistry between the young cast is stellar and I was invested in all them and their well being.

Abrams touches on all the elements of the teenage struggles that made those films of the 1970's and 1980’s so great: the awkwardness of puberty, conflicts with friends, and the biggest lesson of all, learning that your parents are flawed people. For all of you in your 30's-40's who have fond memories from the movies that impacted your childhood, Super 8 will win you over.  Abrams kept the plot of this film hushed.  In fact, up until its release, exact details were not even known.  It was a very smart marketing move on his part and based on the box office it worked.  Do not wait for Netflix on this one.  The ticket price not only gets you in the movie but it will make you feel like a kid again and that is pretty super.

fashionadofilm score 9 out of 10

fashionadofilm Jamie Clemons