ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Super 8 -- A Movie Review

Updated on June 14, 2011

Super 8 (3 & a half stars out of 5)

Back in the 80s, Steven Spielberg mastered a type of family-friendly, character-oriented sci-fi film which was imitated by many others at the time. Movies like ET, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Goonies and Poltergeist were hallmarks of an innocent yet artful filmmaking style. You can say “They don’t make ‘em like that anymore” but you’d be wrong, because Super 8 is a nostalgic throwback to a type of earnest, heartfelt sci-fi movie that seemed extinct in the 21st Century until now.

Director J.J. Abrams (The mastermind behind Lost and Alias, as well the cinematic remakes of Star Trek and Mission Impossible) copies the formula of Spielberg (Who produced the film) which focuses on families and particularly on children as the centerpiece of the greater story. Our young cast here could have stepped right out of Diary of a Wimpy Kid but in a sci-fi setting. They may not ride bikes through the air like in ET but our pre-teen protagonists get around, as they get to the heart of this monster mystery.

Our main protagonist is 12-year-old Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) who has recently lost his mother to a tragic subplot (Which seems a bit intrusive to the main story), and is having trouble relating to his depressed father Jack (Kyle Chandler) who can’t juggle his duties as a single parent with his job as the town’s deputy Sheriff. Joe tries to keep his spirits up by joining his bossy best friend Charles (Reilly Griffith) in making an amateur film to win a student film festival. Along with three others buddies (A trio of clichés—the dumb kid, the smart kid, and the crazy kid who carries fireworks with him and likes to blow things up) they make a zombie film with their Super 8 camera, assisted by an older girl Alice (Ellie Fanning) who Joe has a major crush on. They sneak out at night to do some late shooting at the train depot, and arrive just in time to see the military transport train passing by. They watch as a truck crashes deliberately into the train, which leads to the best derailment scene since The Fugitive. The kids accidently film something escaping from the train wreckage.

As with any good monster-on-the-loose film, the military shows up to hunt the beast. And movie buffs won’t be surprised to know that covering the whole thing up is of equally high priority to them as recapturing what has escaped. That’s what the military does in sci-fi films.

Strange things start happening and all the town dogs flee for the hills as soon as they get a whiff of trouble, but the two legged locals take a bit longer to put the pieces together. People begin to vanish, as do various machine parts. The power begins to fail. Paranoid locals fear a Russian Invasion. The town adults—led by Deputy Jack after the Sheriff goes missing—are befuddled, but never fear, because our Scooby Doo gang of intrepid junior high heroes are on the case.

There is an innocent and touching young romance between Joe and Alice, including an oddly erotic scene where he makes her up to be a zombie. However, the unnecessary subplot about the unpleasant past between Joe’s deputy dad and Alice’s screw-up father Louis (Ron Eldard) is a big distraction and never fully explained. The youngsters don’t need a Romeo and Juliet obstacle to complicate their budding romance when there is a monster destroying the town.

There is a laudable theme running throughout the film about judging people (or monsters) without walking a mile in their shoes, because even the worst of us is more than just a monster. Abrams earlier monster movie Cloverfield focused more of the jeopardy of the characters but didn’t have any subtext. This film isn’t quite as epic as Cloverfield but the effects are good and the train wreck scene is a visual circus of chaos.

Super 8 is not a perfect film but it brings back nostalgic memories of a time when sci-fi movies had a type of heart and magic which went beyond just the big special effects or pyrotechnics, and the human element was more important than the over-the-top action. Spielberg understood that. I hope Michael Bey is watching.

Recommended.


Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR

      Rob 

      7 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Hi. Thanks for stopping by my hub to comment. I'll look up some of yours.

      Rob

    • 1robcares profile image

      1robcares 

      7 years ago

      it was like a gunnes and a E-T movie but it was a good kids movie cant beat it check out some of my hubs

    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR

      Rob 

      7 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Glad you liked it, HH Thanks for reading.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      Than you for a great review.

    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR

      Rob 

      7 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Hi Carl. I hope you enjoy it.

      Rob

    • CarltheCritic1291 profile image

      Carl 

      7 years ago

      Great Hub! Can't wait to see it! Voted Up!

    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR

      Rob 

      7 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Hi Steve; I don't know if all the secrecy around Super 8 was even necessary but we'll see how it works out. You have a bit of a wait to see it but when it reaches the UK, let me know what you think of it.

      Rob.

      .

      Hi Alastar; Enjoy your date and enjoy the film.

      Rob

      .

      Hi ruffryder; I thought Poltergeist had the typical character-centric heart of the usual Speilberg film (Even though he produced it instead of directing it.) But thanks for reading.

      Rob

      .

      Hi Dahoglund; Thanks for stopping by to read and comment.

      Rob

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Interesting background on SciFi films.

    • profile image

      ruffridyer 

      7 years ago from Dayton, ohio

      I have to say I don't consider Polterguist to be an innocent artful film making style. Even with the kids. It was too dark and threatening to be compared to Goonies or E,T,.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Was a little hesitant about reading since my date tonight let me choose which movie to go see and this one is it. But then on second thought, better check-out Robwrite's review. Glad I did. Thanks & very fine review here.

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 

      7 years ago from Manchester, England

      Good review Rob. Super 8 doesn't open here in the UK for another 2 months. Lets see how well it does at the box office and if all the secrecy surrounding it has paid off.

      Voted Up and Useful.

    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR

      Rob 

      7 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Thanks Matt; Glad you liked it.

      Rob

      .

      Hi Phil; It's definitely worth a look. I hope you enjoy it. Thanks for commenting.

      Rob

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 

      7 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      Terrific review, I'll definitely add 'Super 8' to my Zip list.

    • Matt in Jax profile image

      Matt in Jax 

      7 years ago from Jacksonville, FL

      Yet another great Hub man! Keep it up.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)