Saturday, June 11, 2011
Movie review : “Super 8”
Some sort of strange encounter is happening in the small town of Lillian, Ohio, in the summer of 1979. First comes the train crash, a marvel of screeching wheels and fiery, flying freight cars that a group of aspiring filmmakers just happens to witness while shooting a low-budget zombie flick on Super 8 film. Then the neighborhood dogs go missing. Then the electricity goes out — and then the appliances and wires themselves disappear. Finally the military takes the whole place over, led by Noah Emmerich.
Throughout the big action of the final half -the town's forced evacuation, alien disruptions by the alien, the kids' efforts to film their movie and their subsequent adventures, Abrams still finds time to brought forward some of the characters' emotional struggles : between Joe (Joel Courtney) and his deputy sheriff dad (Kyle Chandler) struggling with the death of Joe’s mother’s month earlier, between Alice (Elle Fanning) and Louis (Ron Eldard), who are revealed to be more a complex character than initially indicated, and even between Charlie (Riley Griffiths) and Joe about their competitive feelings for Alice.
The young actors who probably had never appeared in a feature film before, are total naturals. They bounce off each other with effortless, goofy humor. All the personalities in the group come together brilliantly and each one’s best qualities being heightened in interaction with the others. Some in the most impressive performances are Abrams’ lead, Joel Courtney, who perfectly immersed the purity of youth layered with the dawning of adulthood. Elle Fanning who shows incredible acting chops in her ability to portray the pain of a broken home balanced with the uncontainable desire to wander into life’s mysteries. Also worth mentioning is Ryan Lee who’s a great source of comic relief and Kyle Chandler in his best work on film ever.
If you watched the trailers, you will notice that it never reveal anything more than you need to know.The movie keeps the escaped creature neatly under wraps, keeps the momentum going, revealing bit by bit until the final act. You will see everything happen through the kids' eyes and feel like you're part of the movie. That's a feeling that comes with great storytelling and engaging characters.
Although technically, it looks almost identical to a Spielberg film from three decades ago, Abrams also tells a story that's very much its own entity. Abrams has captured the spirit of growing up and flawlessly unified it with a gripping, action-packed, science-fiction excitement. As writer and director, Abrams effectively conveys a mood — a mixture of innocence, fear and ultimately hope. He also captures a familiar sense of childhood loneliness, a need to escape and belong and the adventures that can spring from that yearning. It is a sweet and sad side story that balances well without being too melodramatic.
The idea that being a part of a film can provide a gateway to an exciting, new life — regardless of which side of the camera you're on is infectious and inviting. That feeling carries through all the way to the closing credits, so make sure you stay in your seat for the full payoff as they reveal the final full version of the Super 8 movie the kids endured so many distractions to make.
Rating 4 out of 5