JJ Abrams has directed two major sequels based on television shows, Mission: Impossible III and the 2009 reboot of Star Trek, but this summer he will unleash his first original project, Super 8. Our American correspondent Wes May wants us to take a trip to see if it will stand proudly with those films, and who are we at GeekChocolate to ever say no to a night out at the cinema?
Any child of the 80’s who can recall the first glorious times they watched The Goonies, ET or any number of spirited odes to the joys of youth will almost instantly recognize that same nostalgic feeling in director JJ Abrams expertly crafted Super 8. Produced by the godfather of wide-eyed adventure films, Steven Spielberg, Super 8 is a mix of youthful exuberance, adventure, imagination, and sci-fi mystery.
A group of early teenage film geeks are planning their own zombie film. In the midst of one of their late night filming sessions, they witness a horrific train crash. Following the accident, a mysterious entity escapes one of the wrecked carriages, setting off a series of events that rocks their sleepy small town. Animals and people mysteriously vanish. Even stranger, a series of thefts of car parts and electrical equipment baffle the police, and the presence of military personnel only serves to unsettle the town further.
The investigation is led by local deputy Jackson Lamb, played by the always excellent and reliable Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights), a recent widower and father to teenage Joe. Played perfectly by newcomer Joel Courtney, Joe longs for his deceased mother, and for the affection of his now emotionally distant father. Spending his time with his friends, including aspiring film maker Joel (Riley Griffiths) and the lovely Alice, played with the same preternatural acting talent of her famous acting sibling Dakota by Elle Fanning, Joe fills his days filming their super 8 zombie movie, to the consternation of their parents.
As the teens are drawn into the mysterious occurrences following the train wreck, they begin to uncover a lot about the creature at the mystery’s core. The creature is hidden for over half of the film, and the big reveal elicits little more than a shrug, but that doesn’t matter. The sense of nostalgia that Super 8 elicits, and the strength of its young cast help carry the film, bringing it close to the classic status of any number of excellent films of our youth. It’s easy to imagine someone twenty years from now looking back at Super 8 the way we look back at Stand By Me or The Goonies.
Abrams is a master at creating mood, joy, wonder and edge-of-your-seat excitement. Like many of his generation, he looks to his past for the things he enjoys now. Unlike many of his generation, he can put his imagination on film for all to enjoy. So grab the popcorn and settle in.
Super 8 is on general release in America now, and will be released in the UK in August.
Wes May is the author of the graphic novel Midnight’s End, and is one of the tasty brains behind www.zombiebuffet5k.com