In the small town of Lillian, Ohio, the residents have been tormented by an accident at their steel plant that claimed the life of the mother of Joe Lamb. Although he continues to struggle moving on, he tries to find some normalcy with filmmaking with his friends. When him and his friends convince Alice Dainard to help them sneak out late one night for a special scene for Charles’s super 8 movie. With the background of an inbound train, Charles pushes up the filming and believes he has his perfect shot. Joe sees a truck in the distance that barrels down the track and causes the train to derail into a massive wreck. Escaping the scene without getting caught, Joe and his friends agree to never speak of the incident. Their agreement soon becomes a null point as something seems to be leaving a trail of destruction across the town with no clear explanation.
Starring: Joel Courtney (Joe Lamb), Jessica Tuck (Mrs. Kaznyk), Joel McKinnon Miller (Mr. Kaznyk), Ryan Lee (Cary), Zach Mills (Preston), Riley Giffiths (Charles), Gabriel Basso (Martin), Kyle Chandler (Jackson Lamb), Ron Eldard (Louis Dainard), AJ Michalka (Jen Kaznyk), Elle Fanning (Alice Dainard)
While Kyle Chandler may be the most well-known actor of the group, there is a much stronger emphasis on the talents of the young Joel Courtney. As the troubled Joe Lamb, Courtney exhibits a strong sense of longing for his lost mother. The symbolism behind the locket and his emotional moments in memory of his mother are truly inspiring for the young actor. His fearlessness also seems to come from a place of loss, which provides more depth for his character. Chandler, on the other hand, appears more frantic and challenged by the newfound authority he takes on in the absence of the sheriff. He shares a few moments of pain with the loss of his wife and hatred for Louis Dainard’s involvement in the accident. Elle Fanning plays the young love interest, who initially is avoidant of the deputy’s son but finds a quick attraction to his kind personality. The rest of the cast is great but not as recognizable as most other blockbuster films.
Abrams’s and Spielberg’s big sci-fi thriller takes a different angle than many other recent alien films. Weaving the storyline into the Cold War events of the late 70s and early 80s, Super 8 creates a terrifying but misunderstood creature seeking escape from the hostility it received upon landing on Earth. You are introduced the alien early but never get a good look until late into the film. The side story of the creation of a super 8 film helps to keep the kids woven into the confrontations with the alien encounter. The kids are actually very funny, particularly in the bickering while developing the movie. Martin, the hypochondriac and lightweight, appears to be in a constant state of freak out regardless of the intensity of the situation. Cary is quite the pyromaniac but seems to get irked based on the level of chaos around him. Charles stands out as Joe’s best friend but tries to balance his love for Alice and desire to make his movie happen.
With the great action/graphic scenes, strong performances by some young actors and intensity of the alien creature, this is a very strong summer blockbuster that may not stand out as well among the more recognized superhero and action films.
Dan’s Rating: 3.5/5