Being mentored by Steven Spielberg and being very much a Sci-fi fan boy himself, the nostalgic Sci-fi thriller Super 8 is an homage to both, especially the Spielberg Sci-fi movies of the 1970s like Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) but there are also many elements that reminded me of The Iron Giant (1999) and the Korean monster film The Host (2007), making this an extremely fun and moving picture.
The human story is very carefully grounded in the excellent heartfelt performances of the whole cast and always remains the focus of the film. The extra-terrestrial part of the story never over-whelms the human story, and this is what Spielberg and Abrams are both so good at.
Taking place in a small town in rural America, a group of teenagers are busily involved in making a Super 8 movie for a contest they want to enter. Filming on location at a local train station one night they witness a derailment that was not an accident but part of a much bigger government conspiracy. Something escapes from one of the freight cars but no one has seen it. Soon reports of strange events and people gone missing start to panic the town’s people, and our group of future filmmakers are now also involved in trying to solve the mystery of the derailment and why the military has arrived so quickly to conduct strange tests. It sounds a lot like E.T. except that this alien is not so friendly.
This movie is well worth seeing and is fun for the whole family. It has plenty of suspense and drama in equal parts and is paced very well so it’s never boring and has a very emotional and moving climax.
J.J. Abrams is the new Spielberg of today’s generation and his films are always going to be something to look forward to. Don’t miss it.