I finally got to see the movie Super 8 this past weekend. It had been subject to a subdued viral marketing campaign, something akin to when Cloverfield came out a few years ago, but thankfully the payoff for Super 8 was much, much better. I thought Super 8 was a fantastic movie.
Super 8 is a deliberately nostalgic movie, throwing back to the era of summer films with ensemble child casts (think Goonies or E.T.) and set in 1979, right smack in the middle of that era of summer movies. It captures the awkwardness of childhood while showing the kids dealing with it and having an awesome, incredible adventure that you wish you too could have during your summer break.
The basic setup is that a group of kids filming a Super 8 movie during summer break witness the derailment of an Air Force train under mysterious circumstances. After, strange things start happening around town which they end up getting caught up in. Of course, this is just the basic premise of the plot, and ignores the character arcs that are the main driving force of this movie.
The young cast carries the movie, with the two leads (Joel Courtney and Elle Fanning) displaying a good degree of nuance, and the supporting actors hitting their notes just right. The adult characters have an arc that parallels the kids, and while the handling of this is not particularly subtle, neither is it heavy-handed or overbearing. I would consider this to be a very classically-structured film, and that’s entirely okay. It totally works.
The reviews for Super 8 were mostly positive, with a few complaining about the ending. While the ending was not particularly surprising or clever, I do think it worked, and I’m not sure how it could have been different without compromising the feel of the film. Super 8 is a movie that doesn’t try to pull any tricks on the viewer; it is exactly what it appears to be. And that’s great, because it is done so well. Super 8 is easily one of the best movies I’ve seen this year.