In a small town in 1979 Ohio, four friends decide to make a zombie film together using their parent’s Super 8 camera. The four boys, along with their new co-star Alice, go out to shoot an important scene one night when they witness a train accident and narrowly escape the wreckage.
The town begins to experience weird things happening after that night. Power outages, dogs running away and people disappearing all occur soon after the wreck. When the boys develop their film, they see something escaping the wreckage that doesn’t seem human and may be the cause of the weird goings on in their town.
There are very few filmmakers in the last decade that have become as prolific as J.J. Abrams. Along with Christopher Nolan and Joss Whedon, Abrams uses viral marketing while also maintaining a great level of secrecy with his current projects.
After creating groundbreaking television shows like “Alias” and “Lost”, Abrams entered the world of film. With Super 8, (only his third – and best – movie) he is showing himself to be one of cinema’s most exciting auteurs.
With his previous films, Abrams has attempted to sneak small amounts of emotion into huge blockbuster action films. Take for instance, the opening torture scene in Mission: Impossible III or Kirk’s father’s death in Star Trek. But with Super 8, Abrams balances action and emotion throughout in a way he has never been able to, or even attempted before.
Super 8 takes the best from Abrams as he pays homage to the films of the past. Abrams pushes himself and makes the most balanced and satisfying of his short, but already great film career.
As of right now, Super 8 is placed second only to Back to the Future on my list of favorite Amblin films. I’m sure over time, this placement will change and there is at least one film at least that needs to be higher than Super 8 that it owes quite a lot to: E.T. the Extra Terrestrial.
One of the greatest aspects of Super 8 is its ability to be a great story driven action film from 2011 that feels like it’s from the eighties. Super 8 plays like a love letter to Steven Spielberg, most importantly E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind and films like Stand By Me, while never feeling like it’s ripping off those familiar films.
I can’t help but think that over time, Super 8 will not remain at my number two spot, but then again like E.T. and Stand By Me, it may become part of the public lexicon and be as classic as those seminal eighties films. But as of right now, I have no problem with it being ranked as high as these classic films.
Currently Super 8 is #66 on my Flickchart, the highest of any film so far from 2011. This may seem a bit high, but as a huge fan of both Abrams and Spielberg, Super 8 delivered in huge amounts for me. As much as I was interested in the main plot with the mystery of what was on the train, I was just as excited about the character development of the people in this town and I even found myself interested in seeing where the boys’ filmmaking would go next.
Abrams brings all the elements together to make a great nostalgic action film. The believable characters and script, the phenomenal performances (finally everyone will see that Elle is the better Fanning), and the great directing, that is at the same time flashy, yet comforting. Abrams brings the audience into this small town, and without using 3D too, to engulf the viewer in a flashback film that will capture almost anyone’s imagination that gives it a chance.