Super 8 appears to be J.J. Abrams’ way of paying his respects to Steven Spielberg. I was steadily reminded of E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind throughout this film. The community kids are the first to discover the strange things happening around town, are almost always the only witnesses to important events, and repeatedly run into the adults who just don’t understand.
An article in this week’s New York Times magazine describes how a young J.J. Abrams got a job repairing and editing Steven Spielberg’s old Super 8 films. That is a great memory to start your new screenplay with. Five pre-teen kids in an out of the way, small Ohio town are making a zombie movie on a Super 8. The boss kid is the director and persistently updating screenwriter. There is also the nervous lead actor, the kid obsessed with explosives who plays the zombie, and our film’s main character, the make-up artist who is also adept at model trains and airplanes. While sneaking out at night to work on their movie with a newly recruited girl in their mix, the kids witness a train derailment and so begins the mystery.
I will reveal nothing about the train, what was on it, and what happens after that. Would you have wanted the answer to everything about E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind before seeing them? No way. Just know that this is not a movie just for the kids. There are genuinely suspenseful moments, a lot of pre-teen cursing, drug use, some quality horror gore, and an overall tight story. It is very refreshing to see a summer movie which is not a franchise continuing sequel or about a new superhero. These kids are real and there small town adventure mystery is well worth it.