Starring: Joel Courtney, Kyle Chandler, AJ Michalka, Ron Eldard, Noah Emmerich and Elle Fanning
Run Time: 112 minutes
Rated: PG-13Plot: In the summer of 1979, a group of friends in a small Ohio town witness a catastrophic train crash while making a super 8 movie and soon suspect that it was not an accident. Shortly after, unusual disappearances and inexplicable events begin to take place in town, and the local Deputy tries to uncover the truth - something more terrifying than any of them could have imagined. Written by Official site
To settle one of the biggest misconceptions about this movie, Super 8 does indeed refer to the type of camera used by the kids throughout the film. It is not the Motel of the same name nor is it the moniker for the monster.
With that squared away, this movie is an homage to Steven Spielberg, the director renowned for his Sci-Fi works such as E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Jurassic Park. It thus follows a similar formula of child actors, alien/foreign entities and a stunning score.
Here's how this one goes. Grieving the loss of his mother to a nuclear power plant accident, Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney), agrees to take part in his friend Charles' (Riley Griffiths) Super 8 film festival entry. Due to a rewrite of Charles' making, Alice Dainard (Elle Fanning) is cast the part of the lead detective's wife. Those three, plus three other friends --Cary (Ryan Lee), Preston (Zach Mills), and Martin (Gabriel Basso) -- decide to film a climatic scene at the train station in the dead of night. Suddenly, Joe notices a truck pull onto the tracks, causing the train to derail and trigger a series of catastrophic explosions. Luckily, all the kids survive save a few scratches to their name. Among the wreckage, they discover the driver of the truck was their school's Biology honors teacher Dr. Woodward (Glynn Turman) and small white cubes, one of which Joe pilfers. Moments later, the Air Force sweeps in and the gang flees, vowing to never admit they were there.
Very soon after this incident, all dogs are reported missing along with various metal appliances. This mystery serves as the main story arc and small sub plots emerge. For instance, the love triangle between Joe, Alice and Charles, the strained father/son relationship between Joe and his dad, Lillian Deputy turned Sheriff, Jackson Lamb (Kyle Chandler) and of course the shooting of Charles' film.
The ensemble cast of six characters give a pretty believable performance. Joel Courtney is especially endearing, solidifying his chances of a decent acting career in the future. In a lot of ways, this is a slightly updated version of The Goonies, which you can either consider a good or bad thing. Other minor roles provide comic relief to a otherwise frightening movie. I say frightening because there are several scenes where the monster appears out of nowhere all of the sudden. Needless to say, the effects are well done and in addition the music heightened the action on screen. Detracting from the overall quality, however, were the noticeable goofs. If you're comfortable looking past that, then fine, pay it no mind.
As a warning to any parents or older siblings going with youngsters, there is a fair amount of swearing and drug/alcohol references. Viewer discretion is advised!
All in all, this is a decent summer blockbuster movie to enjoy with friends/family.
You can watch the official trailer here.