Written by: FFT Webmaster | June 10th, 2011
OUT OF 4
Director and writer J.J, Abrams has close encounters with his producer Steven Spielberg and creates an entertaining sci-fi action- adventure- illusionist movie. Taking place in an Ohio steel town in 1979, when Super 8 was the cutting edge low- budget movie choice and video something only found in TV stations, the film mixes up Spielbergian Goonies with the prescient pop culture machinations that Abrams (Lost & Star Trek) delivers under contract. While this project is hardly a break through experience it’s certainly a crowd- pleaser.
The first act is a triumph of creating nostalgia as we hear the mellifluous tones of Walter Cronkite and music from ELO and the Knack. A bunch of Middle School kids are making a zombie movie much like Spielberg and Abrams did as a kids. They are filming near a train track when an opportunity for “ added production value” occurs with a train roaring down the tracks. They quickly pop in a Super 8 cartridge and begin filming what would turn into a horrific wreck made viscerally exciting by digital imagery and sound design.
The dominating juvenile is pudgy Charles (Riley Griffiths) the visionary director of the horror film and the crew of teen misfits. . Joe (Joel Courtney) plays special effects wizard and braces- wearing Cary (Ryan Lee) grabs our attention. Alice (Elle Fanning), a stunning looking girl, joins this boys’ club, keeping the hormone level high and delivering a revelatory performance.
Soon we are catapulted into the mysterious, as dogs run away from home, electrical misfiring and sparking, cars floating into the air and crashing and cold- metal bending like it was made of rubber. All of this with a wonderful forceful sound design. The film reveals itself ever so slowly much like a scientist following the scientific method. When it finally kicks in we go for the ride which I will not reveal as it makes for spoiler material. Unfortunately the structural weakness of the third act is evident and slightly disappoints. At its conclusion, however, the film holds up as a powerful retro-contemporary offering and will mesmerize and satiate your entertainment appetite.
Stay through the ending credits and you will be rewarded with a special treat that brings it all home.