The phrase "Summer Blockbuster" has been coined for films exactly like J.J. Abrams' latest sci-fi action tale Super 8. Everything about the movie fits into that mold. Abrams and his entire cast did a fantastic job keeping the film on the hush hush, and in its opening weekend the audience poured into theatres wanting to know the secret. Obviously an ingenious business move, the next question becomes, does the film hold up? Super 8 is a hyper blend of The Goonies meets E.T. meets Cloverfield. It may sound incredibly strange, but is it effective?
Super 8 centers around a circle of middle school-aged friends eager to make a contending zombie movie for a local film festival. Despite their young age, the group is quite good at what they do. After the director Charles (played by Riley Griffiths) convinces the young and pretty Alice Dainard (Fanning) to be in their movie, they sneak out at midnight to shoot a pivotal scene together at a railroad station. For "production value" the youngsters shoot their scene as a train passes by them. Joe Lamb (Courtney) witnesses a truck intentionally derail the train, and chaos follows as the train's precious cargo escapes into the small town.
What enables Super 8 to work so well is the immense talent portrayed onscreen by the crop of young actors that the director assembled (you may recognize one of them from the show The Big C). Abrams inevitably develops a suspenseful and creative story, but it unfolds so neatly thanks most in part to first time actor Joel Courtney. The teenage lead carries the film and enables it to be the success everyone envisioned it to be. Not only are the young actors delivering on point, but Abrams script and dialogue help regenerate a very nostalgic feel. You get sucked into Super 8 rather easily, and even tend to question why at times. The film was made to mimic early Spielberg work and it actually succeeds in doing so.
Another aspect of Super 8 worth mentioning is the movie's special effects. The monster that Abrams creates lives up to the script and sequence of events surrounding it. There's definitely a level of sophistication to the story, and every loose end gets tied up rather easily. In fact, if there is a major downfall to the film, it's the director's attempt to create too many coexisting storylines simultaneously.
Super 8 is wildly entertaining and an easy watch. It's well paced and precisely crafted. There's no struggle watching this film and it will undoubtedly bring you back in time to a feeling you had while watching classic adventure tales from the past. Super 8 is by no means overly original or groundbreaking, yet the movie achieves its purpose. I'd suggest getting to the theatres and checking it out, because you'll enjoy the nostalgic ride.