I went to see Super 8 last night and it is superb!
The movie opens with the death of Joe Lamb's mother as a result of an industrial accident. Now there is just Joe and his father Jackson, who is the local sheriff, left to deal with life in small town Lillian, Ohio. When school breaks for the summer, in 1979, Joe and his friends Charles, Cary, Preston and Martin plan to shoot a Super 8 movie for a movie contest. They manage to get pretty Alice Dainard to star in their homemade movie, partly because she can drive and they need a ride out of town to the train station to shoot a scene.
While working on their film at the train station, they witness a spectacular train crash. Barely escaping with their lives, they flee the scene when the military shows up. But already, these kids know something isn't right, because their science teacher, Mr. Woodward is there too, with a warning.
Soon suspicious things begin happening all over town. The deputy sheriff disappears at the local gas station which is demolished, there are missing dogs and people, unexplained thefts, power outages and other strange goings-on. Joe's father, Jackson Lamb, now in charge of the sheriff's office, suspects that the military is covering up something sinister and he is determined to learn what it is they are hiding. Meanwhile, Joe and his friends know that they have to get back to the site of the train wreck. But it isn't until they watch their developed Super 8 film which continued to record the accident while they fled from the initial train crash, that they realize what they are dealing with.
This sci-fi thriller works so well because it creates incredible suspense by not revealing just what the military is hiding until well past halfway through the film. In each encounter with the unknown, we see only the effects and actions of the unknown, but not the source of the terror.
The other unique aspect of this movie is that the group of young teens are making a zombie movie, The Case, while all of this is going down in Lillian. It's like a movie within a movie, only Joe, Alice, Charles and the rest of the gang just don't realize it yet.
There are many moments of humour to provide the necessary comic relief in this movie, especially during the scenes of the young teens filming their movie and their interactions with one another. That movie, The Case, can be viewed at the end of Super 8, so be sure to stay after the credits!
Newcomer Joel Courtney who plays Joe Lamb is a refreshing face alongside beautiful Elle Fanning who plays Alice. Ryan Lee is well cast as Cary, the kid with a pyrotechnics fetish and Kyle Chandler is a strong, solid choice for Jackson Lamb.
J.J. Abrams directed Super 8. Abrams has stated that the idea came from two separate ideas for movies; one for an Area 51/aliens flick and a second idea for a movie involving teens shooting their adventures using Super 8. Neither was going anywhere when the idea struck him to merge the two ideas.
Some younger teens might take a few minutes to understand that the movie is set in the late 1970's but it's relatively obvious that this is the time period because of the songs, style of clothing and models of cars, the brief mention of the Three Mile Island accident and the shot of Walter Cronkite, iconic TV newscaster on the TV set.
There's no need to say it, but the special effects are incredible. The train wreck is shown in all its glory and seems a bit overdone. It must occupy about 5 minutes of the movie, in terms of actually documenting the crash. It's amazing that none of the children are injured, and that in spite of all the devastation, the Super 8 movie camera survives.
Overall, a great movie for those who love science fiction, action and a touch of teen romance. Virtually no gore and only mild swearing. Definitely for older children due to the frightening scenes.