It’s safe to say that Director JJAbrams is one to watch. Having recently brought his 114 part TV series “Lost” to its close and rejuvenating the “Star Trek” franchise successfully he has now made a film which is unashamedly an ode to his hero Steven Spielberg. In the same way “E.T” was about a young boy who befriends an alien which causes an adventure and the little boy coming up against the US government, “Super 8” is about a young boy who – whilst making a film on the eponymous camera – witnesses a train crash which is the trigger for a series of mysterious incidents.
The action and adventure aspect of the film is wonderfully reminiscent of childhood films of 20 years ago, which I must say is a welcome change from the bombardment of children’s animated comedies we’ve had in the last few years. Rarely do we see a film which orbits around a group of young people getting up to what children get up to anymore, and the way these playful and carefree times play out on screen are a real pleasure to watch. Every actor perfectly encapsulates what it is to be young and caught up in something this exciting (or frightening for one boy who keeps vomiting!). There are numerous times you will find yourself laughing harder than in many comedy films that have been released recently. One line by a particularly funny boy is “Can we have some more fries for this table please, my friend here is very fat” it is just so similar to how friend interact with each other and is truly a testament to the realism of the film.
Even the romantic side plot is well handled, it takes into account their youth respectably but still makes young love seem as exciting and important as it is to those involved.
I’m really glad I liked the characters and the group dynamic so much, because when it developed into the disaster movie and adventure part in the final third it strayed briefly into a generic and somewhat run of the mill story. It goes as far as having to rescue the girl. Having said this, it feels like the film earned the right to do this in the first half because it set everything up so well, the characters had motivation to be doing these things the action built up to its natural conclusion and story ties together with a pretty bow on top. However, because the build-up and the establishment of the characters and story is so good it does make you want a little more of that drama and comedy. Basically a little more “E.T” and a little less “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” would be nice Mr Abrams.
Verdict: An enjoyable & fresh feeling take on a well-trod genre. Excellently performed by the young cast and superbly written by JJ Abrams who is becoming a great blockbuster maker of our time. Not quite Spielberg or Christopher Nolan yet, but certainly on his way.