‘After witnessing a mysterious train crash, a group of friends in the summer of 1979 begin noticing strange happenings going around in their small town, and begin to investigate into the creepy phenomenon.‘
After being let down by the lack of any real tension watching X-Men – First Class the night before, Super 8 was a welcome relief. This movie uses classic jump moments very well, but it doesn’t rely on them. It is a movie that knows how to take its time in building the characters and tension so that when everything goes to hell, we really care about what’s happening.
The movie opens with a brilliant sequence set several months before the main story. While using almost no dialogue, it sets up all of the necessary background for the main character. It is a perfect example of showing rather than telling. And the movie continues to let the actors convey things through their performances rather than weighing us down with exposition. Every one of these characters is very believable, and I cared about every single one of them. I hope to see these kids in other movies soon.
This movie is an homage not only to Steven Spielberg’s early movies, but to any childhood that involved making your own movies. While I wasn’t around for the Super 8 era, the movie really reminded me of my childhood making silly movies with my parents video camera. J.J. Abrams is really showing his own childhood here, and the truthfulness of the experience really shines through. Which is why we’re already onboard with the movie when things take a dramatic turn with a shocking train derailment (one of the better action set pieces I’ve seen in recent years).
After the explosive train sequence, the movie shifts gear and starts getting a lot more tense. Abrams has learnt the most important lesson for making a monster movie: the less we see of the monster, the better. That way, we’re encouraged to imagine what the monster can be, and our imaginations are better than anything the CGI can come up with. The tension grows with each new monster encounter, and every time it shows up it’s with a bang.
Unfortunately, the increase in pace throughout the movie leaves some of the later scenes with the children launching a rescue operation feeling a bit rushed. I was still really caught up in what was happening, but things seemed to jump around very quickly and I didn’t get much of a chance to get invested in what was going on. But thankfully things were wrapped up in a very satisfying conclusion. I was worried that we were going to be let down with the aftermath of these crazy events with the usual scenes of everyone picking up their lives again, but the movie knew exactly when to end so it didn’t over-stay its welcome.
Overall, I would highly recommend this movie to anyone who enjoyed the great family movies of the 70’s/80’s e.g. E.T., The Goonies, Close Encounters etc.
Although I could do with a little less lens flare next time J.J.
What I Liked – Fantastic performances by all the actors. The monster wasn’t overused.
What I Didn’t Like – Lens Flare! Some of the later scenes felt a little rushed.
Rating – 4 out of 5 (Really Enjoyable)