Super 8 feels like the return of a certain type of movie. The days of magical experiences such as Jurassic Park and ET seem long gone, but Super 8 dredges up some of these memories to create a modern day take on what makes a truly extraordinary film for all ages. Set in the late 70’s it avoids having to force the latest fashions, gadgets and sayings; instead it gives us a tale of a bunch of kids filming a movie and an alien.
The tale is of a bunch of kids filming a zombie movie for a school competition while some mysterious thing is on the loose. The protagonist, Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney), is dealing with the loss of his mother, but keeps moving forwards in his life to film a movie about zombies with his friends. His father, Jackson Lamb (Kyle Chandler), has other plans for him though and we quickly see he knows little about what is best for his own son. Being the deputy of the small town he is already busy, but when the incident happens shortly into the film, his workload if overload. The pace is pleasing as we get a colourful view on each main role in the film and the setting is stuffed full of nostalgia of being a kid, sneaking out at night and discussing classroom myths. The excellent choice of music (The Cars and Blondie!) and the slightly grainy screening helps deliver a film which feels like it is from that era. Each character plays an excellent role, especially love interest Alive Dainard (Elle Fanning), who manages to leave the viewer speechless and packed full of emotion.The character interactions and fun is kept throughout.
The big incident is when the film kicks up a gear, which is a truly amazing train crash. The special effects of the train erupting into flames and flying everywhere is better than anything the likes of Transformers managed to put out and the screeching sound effects lead to a feeling of dread and awe. It comes so suddenly and from then the film goes from mystery to kids slice of life to explosive set pieces. You are never truly prepared for what the monster is going to do next and the way it keeps it off the screen till the final act helps build up a nightmarish image in the head. For horror, show less. Unfortunately when it does show itself, the film stutters and provides a rather unsatisfying ending. Nothing clicks together quite as smoothly as desired and the ending just feels like a quick way to end it as they couldn’t formulate a better finale to give all the characters some significant wrapping up. The conflict between Joe’s dad and Alice’s dad other their mothers death and the monsters final decisions just feel a little anti-climatic after such beautiful and terrifying build up
Super 8 is still the best summer blockbuster and a film which will stick in the mind long after the credits role. It won’t be remembered in the same way as Jurassic Park and ET, but it is a positive sign that there is still magic in cinema.