As I was making my way out from the theater, I overheard a friend giving his opinion on this movie which described it precisely, “It was E.T on steroids”. Well, maybe it was little something like that, but it was nonetheless one of the best summer movies I’ve seen in a while.
Now, this isn’t really an adventure movie made purely for kids, although it certainly made an effort to be children friendly. The fact that the filmmakers raise the emotional stake to break the norm of your average Sci-Fi adventure film proves that Super 8 is intended to be a film for pretty much everyone from all age groups.
Still, the new J.J. Abrams summer flick was quite remarkable. We miss seeing movies like this. There is something pure and innocent about the movie that awes me. A group of kids accidentally witness a horrifying train-wreck and capture the footage using a super 8 camera. Unexplained disappearances and deaths soon begin as the kids dig deeper into the truth behind the seemingly normal accident and the grave danger that lies behind. From there, they off-set a series of exciting and over-the-top adventure.
Not exactly an original story, but the filmmakers handle the plot so delicately and superbly, that it becomes almost nonessential in the end. The kinds, played by mostly newcomers, delivered everything a bunch of twelve and thirteen year olds has to offer, and maybe more. Young they may be, the chemistry between the two main characters, Alice (Elle Fanning), and Joe (Joel Courtney), was worth every scene. Abrams works his way and gives the audience exactly what they came to see, and he does it stylishly.
You won’t feel over-satisfied after seeing the movie, nor would it let you wanting for more. It concludes in the right place at the right time. Most importantly, the film makes you wonder, behind the laughter and tears, what does it the movie really leave us with? Is there more to the story than what appears onscreen? What does it truly represent? My guess is that they really don’t matter at the end of the day. The kids are safe, the bad guy has left. Although on second thought, maybe we shouldn’t really be thinking this in terms of good and bad.
The only dissatisfaction I had with this movie comes in its somewhat uninspiring third act. Once we get a clear picture of the secret behind the mystery, we’re leave with no choice but to Hollywood-ize everything. The last twenty minutes of the film offer me just that. On one hand I was amazed by the fact that after the kids survive so many near fatal explosions they can still play heroes, on the other hand I was exhausted by the non-stopping chase sequences which did very little to advance the story plot. Then again, I guess that’s understandable. Don’t forget we’re dealing with Steven Spielberg here.
But all in all, this was an extraordinary movie. Abrams raises the bar of science fiction and serves the audience justice and fits well in the director’s shoe. Not you everyday Hollywood big pic, but Super 8 is certainly a fresh face among the summer popcorn flicks, and honestly, movies don’t get better than this.