I am a J.J. Abrams fanboy. And that’s okay! My love for LOST is ridiculous and I really love Fringe, Mission Impossible III and Star Trek. (The first season of Alias rocks too.) Much in the way of my other favorite directors, Abrams is a guy who is always thinking about the next way to entertain the audience with thrills and mysteries.
All of those other projects, Abrams was working with a team of other writers. With Super 8, he’s flying solo. It’s just him and the ghost of the not dead Steven Spielberg. This shows all of the purest elements of Abrams storytelling which includes his delight in destroying transportation devices, the mystery box(es), and realizing it’s always about the emotional stakes.
Set in 1979, Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) and his junior high friends are working on their zombie movie. Joe is the makeup expert thanks to reading all the right monster magazines. Charles (Riley Griffiths) is the bossy director who wants everything to be “mint.” The rest of the gang are actors including Alice (Elle Fanning) who was brought into their story so there is more weight to their story.
They have the focus of so many kids of this age. They gotta sneak out at night, tell secrets on their walkie talkies, and worry about your crushes. Even though there are bigger issues at hand like grief and fear, they know what they want to and that’s to make the coolest zombie movie and beat those 16 year olds at the film festival.
This is before they witness one of the greatest crashes in cinema history. (Abrams topped himself from the LOST pilot.) There was something being transported on that train that is now out. There is also a cryptic message from the man driving the truck on the tracks (The Wire’s Glynn Turman) and hundreds of weird white cubes.
Abrams keeps the whole film exciting by always moving forward. The second there is dialog that may just be a tad boring—BOOM—another thrilling scene starts. Most of the time with these sort of tales, all of the focus is wanting to know more about the mythology of the situation. Super 8 answers all of the questions it brings up, which is surprising from the producer of Cloverfield. The real questions I was asking were wondering if the family and the characters were going to be okay. Kyle Chandler plays Joe’s father, Jack Lamb. (Jack Shepherd was already taken.) Chandler is one of those brilliant actors who is so emotional and caring while never showing it.
The story is tied up too nicely, but it’s still a really nice story. It’s the sort of story that you want to show to people because it has twists and turns that aren’t spoiled by the trailer. It’s Abrams’ best film and the sort of movie that should be released every week during the summer. When people see Thor or Transformers they can already figure out what the whole movie will be like before it begins. The real blockbusters, the ones that will last throughout the decades and be beloved by a variety of filmgoers.