Year of Release: 2011
Director: J. J. Abrams
Stars: Joel Courtney, Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, Riley Griffiths, Zach Mills, Ryan Lee, Ron Eldard, Gabriel Basso, Noah Emmerich, Jessica Tuck, Glynn Turman, David Gallagher, Brett Rice
Genre: Mystery, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6
Synopsis:J.J. Abrams has made a name for himself as a screenwriter for both TV (he created "Alias" and "Lost") and Features (he wrote Mike Nichols' "Regarding Henry" and Michael Bay's "Armageddon") and more recently as a producer and director. After the huge hit that was the reboot of "Star Trek", Abrams in association with Steven Spielberg (as a producer), wrote the story for "Super 8", which gets a lot of its inspiration from the early Spielberg films (that he both directed and produced, such as "ET" and "Batteries not Included", directed by Matthew Robbins).
"Super 8" follows the story of young Joe Lamb and his group of friends, who live in a small town in Ohio. Joe is distant with his father, particularly since his mother passed away. Joe and his group of friends are trying to finish a small zombie film, when they accidentally witness the derail of a train carrying a very unusual cargo. The army gets called in and all sorts of strange things start happening in the small town. It's up to Joe and his friends to understand what is going on.
J.J. Abrams is an intelligent writer and director, and in this case in particular he uses the fantasy of films, something the children are doing and embracing, to evoke a time that has gone by. The sense of nostalgia is fueled by the union of this group of children, each one suffering their own losses, who come together for the sheer love of film and adventure. The film is very much a mix of Rob Reiner's "Stand By Me', Steven Spielberg's "ET" and Matthew Robbins' "Batteries not Included" - the creature from the outside is menacing, but never really threatening. In the end, everyone wants to be a part of a loving family (much like Spielberg's films). The only problem this film has, is the fact that where Spielberg's films stay true to his core of having family as a guiding light, "Super 8" feels calculated to elicit reactions and the sense of nostalgia of a time that has gone by. It's an entertaining film, made with a calculating perspective and without a sense of wonder.