Super 8 Review: Everything Great Sci-Fi Films Used To Be

Super 8 is everything that a summer blockbuster should be, and everything the great science fiction films used to be. It has what all the other big-budget, summer blockbusters are missing – a truly great story.

The first 45 minutes of the movie, Abrams is busy establishing backstories. He’s introducing us to the town of Lillian, Ohio in 1979 where we meet aspiring filmmaker Charles (Riley Griffiths) and his friend Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney). Tragedy has just struck for Joe – he lost his mother in accident at the local steel mill. Both are just middle school students, but they instantly grab your heart. Charles is making a zombie movie to enter into a film festival, and he’s enlisted the help of Joe and several of his other friends. As if referring to Super 8 itself, Charles quotes his screenwriting books saying, “You have to care about the characters. You have to want them to live.”

Hm, foreshadowing? Indeed! It’s not long after when the accident occurs, and the special effects blow your mind with a train derailment of massive proportions. Still pretty sure it wouldn’t go down (or up in flames) just like that – but we’ll let that slide! The creature is now loose – and the anticipation builds as we keep missing a good look at it. Abrams is a master at teasing audiences with allusive monsters, and he spares no expense with Super 8.

Saying anything further would have me plastering spoiler alerts all over this review, so you’re just going to have to go see it to find out what happens. But I will say one thing more… There was only one moment in the film that felt contrived and overly corny/sentimental to me – it’s in the third act and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about when you see it. Other than that it’s an incredibly strong picture without much that one can pick apart.

The 6 kids in this film truly make it what it is. Joel Courtney, Ryan Lee, Zach Mills, Riley Griffiths, Gabriel Basso, and Elle Fanning all do an incredible job. Joel Courtney and Elle Fanning especially breathe a level of authenticity into their characters that you just don’t see with their age group. I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot more from these two in the future.

J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg make for an interesting team. You can definitely see influences from both of the filmmakers in Super 8. If it was just Abrams, I feel we never would have gotten a good look at the monster (Don’t worry you do!). And Lost fans, Abrams hasn’t forgotten about you – there are a few references thrown in that will have you smiling. I’ll give you a hint: Kevlin and Locke are two of them – it’s up to you to find them! And if you find more, please post them here – I’m sure I didn’t catch all of them.

Many critics have referred to Super 8 as a valentine to filmmaking and to sci-fi family-oriented movies such as ET, and I’d have to agree. There is something truly original and unique about this Super 8 that I believe will stand the test of time. Few films are this sincere and dazzling. And if the effects weren’t so good, I’d believe I really was watching a science fiction movie released in the late 70’s. Hollywood just doesn’t make them like this anymore. Super 8 is just the film we’ve been waiting for…

Grade: A+

Review By: Emma Loggins

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  1. Interesting topic to bring up… Does anyone else thing that the Super 8 poster looks exactly like the last season poster from lost… but rotated 90 degrees? 🙂

  2. Interesting….I was kind of reluctant because I thought the initial teaser trailers looked really interesting but the newer trailers make it seem like it’s about kids which makes me lose interest. But now I’m thinking it might be worth a watch. Thanks!