Writer/Director: J.J. Abrams
Running time: 112 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 12A
UK Release date: 5th August 2011
Watched at the cinema Saturday 6th August 2011.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
I know this one came out in a lot some territories quite a while ago, but (for some reason) it has only just appeared here on UK screens. As a consequence I have read many reviews praising it, with a few dissenters too. This intrigued me and, when it finally arrived, I decided to go and see it. They were showing it in the little screen upstairs at my local cinema and I had a little trepidation when some teenage girls came in and started complaining about the size of the screen. I shouldn’t have worried; once the film started they settled down. Many likable characters came across the screen and I could see just what J.J. Abrams was aiming at… More of my thoughts later after this brief summary.
A group of kids are making a film; it being the time before video tape, they have to film it on a Super 8 cine camera. The group’s leader, Charles, wants to make a zombie movie for an upcoming competition. He is helped by Joe Lamb, Cary, Martin, Preston, and latterly Alice Dainard. Joe has recently lost his mother in an accident and his dad, a deputy sheriff, is struggling to adapt. He has a thing for Alice, whose dad had worked with Joe’s mother and blames himself for the accident. But I digress… whilst filming one night by the railway tracks; they witness an accident that derails a military train. They capture on film something escaping from one of the carriages, but, of course, they don’t know about that until they can get the film developed (3 days later). By that time the town has gone crazy; disappearances of equipment and people… even all the dogs have left! The military come in to clear up the train wreck and end up evacuating the town. Can these young filmmakers get to the bottom of what’s going on? Well, just in case there is someone out there that hasn’t seen it, I’d better not say. Them spoiler police will be hanging me up to dry.
A very well made film with likable characters, some neat CGI and some very clever effects. I cannot fault the performances, the young cast all did a great job, in particular; Joel Courtney as Joe Lamb, Elle Fanning as Alice Dainard and Riley Griffiths as Charles. All three stood out (for me) and I’m sure they’ll all go far. Also worthy of a mention were; Kyle Chandler as Jackson Lamb (Joe’s dad), Ryan Lee as Cary, Gabriel Basso as Martin and Zach Mills as Preston.
As I’ve already said, I can see what J.J. Abrams was aiming at, and that is the Spielberg films of the late 70’s to the early 80’s. Films like Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and even the Spielberg-produced, The Goonies (1985). Unfortunately this doesn’t have the warmth or the magic of those films, but it is still a worthy effort. There seems to be quite a long time where not much happens and this disrupts the pacing towards the middle. But even so, by the end I really quite enjoyed it. Some great music, both the original soundtrack by Michael Giacchino and the songs of the period that were chosen. As far as the cinematography goes, I’ve read a lot of comment about “flaring”; this didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. I like that they show the film the kids were making while the end credits are rolling… It’s pretty neat. Recommended.
My score: 7.5/10
IMDb Score: 7.6/10 (34,903 votes when this review was written).
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82/100 (236 reviews counted when this review was written).
Official Site: http://www.super8-movie.com/#