Super 8 (J.J. Abrams) 2011 No spoilers

I guess I’ll start with what seems to be the topic of discussion for everyone else. Yes, this movie is very much an homage to Spielberg movies of old. It has some of the same themes as loss, abandonment issues, and children coming of age. But just because Abrams has the same themes, don’t get confused that he is just copying Spielberg. Super 8 is an original film and is enjoyable in its own way.

The movie is about young Joe (Joel Courtney). He recently lost his mother in an accident and his father (played by Kyle Chandler) isn’t really there for him since he is dealing with his own grief. Joe is helping his friends make a short film for a regional film festival. During a night shoot, they observe a pickup truck intentionally ram a train which causes a creature to be released. The air force then enters the town to try to hunt the mysterious creature.

Super 8 is part coming of age story and part horror film. The film does do an excellent job of creating a tense atmosphere. The monster is slowly built up to create suspense and to show us what the monster can do. That being said, I will say the monster was maybe built up too much. I will admit there was a point in the second act when I was wonder when all the shadows and hints would actually amount to anything, or if the filmmakers would be playing with us all the way through. But in the final act we get a very exciting climax and all the build up seems worth it.

The plot involving the children is also entertaining. We follow them through their point of view as they are trying to investigate what is exactly going on all the while dealing with their childhood issues. We get to know Joe very well and we really care about what happens in his life. It really helps they have a solid child actor to play the part. Even a mediocre actor in that role would have been the kiss of death since just about every scene has him in it. Elle Fanning of course does a great job also playing opposite of Joe’s character. You also get some good supporting performances also from Ron Eldard and Kyle Chandler. Sorry I can’t really say all that much about the plot but being so close to release date and the fact the movie plays its secrets close to its chest, I don’t want to reveal too much right now.

I was surprised by this movie although now I can’t think of why. J.J. Abrams usually makes enjoyable movies. Maybe it is because in this movie he was a little more thoughtful and patient in crafting this story when he is usually all about action. I would have to see it a few more times to get a more solid opinion of it, but my first impression is it is one of the most enjoyable movies so far this year for me.

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