With all the talk of “Super 8,” I knew I had to see it ASAP, otherwise I was going to google for spoilers of what exactly the monster is . . . . even though I had an idea. I will post some spoilers later on in the review, and warn those who want to be spoiler free.
So in case you never saw the trailer, or the commercials, here is the basic spoiler free plot. It’s the summer of 1979 and Charles and Joe, two best friends, are making a Super 8 monster (well zombie) movie. Charles is the writer, Joe does the make-up. Several of their other friends are in it, or helping as well. Charles has hopes of winning a Cleveland young film makers contest. Charles, needing more emotion and drama, asks the local hottie Alice to be in the film. This leads to much of the back/side story in the film . . . Joe and Alice become “teen first loves,” but in a not so mushy and in your face way. Alice’s dad and Joe’s dad have a beef, which has to do with the tragic death of Joe’s mom at the local factory months earlier. However that’s just the side story. The real story is that while filming one night at a local train station, the kids witness an event, as well as capture on their film. The insane destruction of a train, millions of weird cubes flung everywhere, and something (which at first don’t get a look of) escaping from one of the cars. A local middle school teacher of biology, involved in the wreck, warns them to run . . . and speak of this to no one . . . .otherwise they and their parents will be killed. Most of the kids are pretty complacent at this request, especially when the Air Force rolls into town. But Alice, Joe and Joe’s dad the deputy sheriff start asking questions . . . . .
The film itself is top quality. Unlike other films of the summer, the stunts look real, as do the explosions, and your convinced your not watching a 90% CGI film. Clever hiding of the monster for most of the film also helps in this regard.
It’s also well acted. The kid actors are great, especially when they’re trying to be cheesy for purposes of the Super 8 film. The adults are great as well, but make no mistake, the kids are the stars of this film.
The scare factors are there. I jumped several times. However it is very light on gore, save for a few scenes. This isn’t a violent film at all . . . and I think it was done so with the intent that families with older kids could enjoy this one together.
Is it the film of the summer? Probably not, we all know that one will go to Harry Potter. Is it the film of the week? For sure. Is it a film, amongst the onslaught of films this summer, that will stand out? Yes most definitely . . . . . . But is it original? Yes and no. Obviously the storyline is original in part, but at the same time it almost seems like a masterful retelling . . . or perhaps a mash-up of well loved 80s kid adventure movies.
*SPOILERISH FROM HERE ON OUT!*
I walked away happy and satisfied from this movie. But at the same time part of that was from a sense of nostalgia. No I was too young to remember 1979. What I meant was from the movies I felt this heavily borrowed from. “Super 8″ is basically a mash-up of “The Goonies” and “E.T.” in my opinion, with just a much darker twist. (Side Note: a friend also felt a strong “Stand By Me” influence, which I too agree was there – yet another one of the pivotal 80s kid adventure flicks).
The kids setting out on an adventure much larger than they meant to get sucked into, while fighting “the man” and “the monsters” gives it that “Goonies” feel. That’s what you get for the first half of the movie, until we finally get an explanation of what the monster is . . . and what it wants.
*COMPLETE SPOILERS HERE*
The monster is an alien, who crashed in the 50s, and has since been trying to rebuild his ship and go home. However the government captured him, and has refused to let him. They have held him captive, experimented on him . . . and turned him into the monster he has become. It’s basically the logical extension of what really would have happened in “E.T.” had the men in suits won out. (You could also say it’s a similar story to last years indie smash “District 9″).
So that’s why I think while it was a very good movie, well made, and highly entertaining . . . I still left feeling I had kinda seen it before, and it left no huge surprises or twists. It might not be completely original, but it’s much better than the sequels and complete remakes Hollywood shoves down our throats these days. For that it gets two thumbs up.