Super 8

Super 8

4.3 3
Director: J.J. Abrams

Cast: J.J. Abrams, Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, Joel Courtney

     
 

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Writer/director J.J. Abrams teams with producer Steven Spielberg for this period sci-fi thriller set in the late '70s, and centering on a mysterious train crash in a small Ohio town. Summer, 1979: a group of young friends are filming a Super-8 movie when a pickup truck derails a speeding train. When theSee more details below

Overview

Writer/director J.J. Abrams teams with producer Steven Spielberg for this period sci-fi thriller set in the late '70s, and centering on a mysterious train crash in a small Ohio town. Summer, 1979: a group of young friends are filming a Super-8 movie when a pickup truck derails a speeding train. When the locals start to disappear and even the inquisitive deputy can't come up with answers, suspicions emerge that the incident was anything but an accident. As the truth finally begins emerge, no one is prepared to learn what now stalks the unsuspecting citizens of this once quiet community. Kyle Chandler and Elle Fanning star.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Jason Buchanan
Adults weaned on '80s-era Steven Spielberg classics will no doubt experience a sharp tinge of nostalgia while watching Super 8, and the children they bring along will get an exciting version of those films to call their own thanks to writer/director J.J. Abrams, who stays faithful to both the style and tone of movies such as E.T. and The Goonies while slyly infusing them with his own contemporary sensibilities. And coming after the point when the shotguns carried by the government agents in E.T. were digitally erased and (unwisely) replaced with walkie-talkies for a recent DVD release, it's undeniably refreshing to see a new fantasy adventure that both refuses to sugarcoat the childhood experience and possesses an actual air of danger. In many ways, Super 8 feels like one of those bold films that came out just after the PG-13 rating was implemented by the MPAA -- when filmmakers were still exploring the boundaries of the mysterious new rating. Not only do the kids in Super 8 swear, but they also have a gun pointed at them by a teacher, run for their lives from a massive train wreck, and make a treacherous dash through a suburban war zone amidst a deafening barrage of military firepower. Yes, parents, this is definitely one instance where you'll want to hire a babysitter for the younger kids -- even if the older ones are likely to let them sneak a peek once the movie comes home in just a few short months. Ohio, 1979: Suburban youth Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) has just lost his mother in a tragic factory accident. Joe's father, Jackson (Kyle Chandler), a deputy with the local police department, doesn't seem especially prepared or equipped to be a single parent, and as a result, a rift seems to be opening up between the two. Meanwhile, Joe and his best friend, Charles (Riley Griffiths), decide to spend their summer vacation shooting Charles' Super-8 zombie film, a project that gets a much-needed boost when their pretty yet troubled classmate Alice (Elle Fanning) agrees to take a small role in the film. Late one night, the crew sneaks out to shoot a scene at a local train depot. As a locomotive comes barreling down the tracks, Charles rolls camera in hopes of getting some extra production value into the scene. He gets much more, however, when a speeding pick-up truck hops the tracks and derails the train. In the ensuing chaos, something otherworldly manages to escape from one of the tightly sealed cargo cars. Over the course of the next few days, Joe and his friends struggle to stay tight-lipped about the incident as the military rolls into town and strange things start happening. Car engines, appliances, pets, and people are vanishing at an alarming rate. And after the sheriff himself goes missing, Jackson attempts to step up and calm the community. Little does he realize, there's a very real reason to panic, and as the military begins evacuating the town, the young filmmakers discover that their camera captured something incredible on the night of the crash. Something that United States Air Force Colonel Nelec (Noah Emmerich) is determined to keep covered up at all costs -- even if it means destroying an entire town to do so. Once upon a time, long before the Internet, some summer blockbusters actually possessed an aura of mystery in the run-up to opening day. Even with genre-specific fanzines and mainstream shows like Entertainment Tonight, we were never quite sure what we were going to get when we purchased our tickets and took our seats. With Super 8, Abrams and company have successfully managed the unique feat of re-creating that experience by crafting an intriguing teaser trailer and ensuring that precious few details of their film were leaked before the release date. It certainly makes for a unique moviegoing experience (especially for youngsters who've grown accustomed to having every spoiler available at the click of a mouse), and it helps that Super 8 does indeed measure up to the films it emulates. However, Super 8 is so effective in capturing a very specific moment in time -- including the look and tone of the movies released then -- that aside from Abrams' trademark lens flares and advanced special effects, it's nearly indistinguishable from the real deal. The youngsters in Super 8 look like real kids instead of glossy imitations; the sense of community harks back to a time before people withdrew into their homes to play video games and surf the Net; and sensitive issues like the death of a parent are handled with a refreshing honesty that doesn't discount Joe's intelligence. A barroom conversation between Joe and his father shows Abrams' talent for revealing telling details about his characters through more than simple dialogue, and a confrontation between Joe and Charles over Alice later in the film displays the writer's keen understanding of the complex dynamics of adolescent friendships. Abrams knows that the action in Super 8 won't have much impact unless we have a strong connection with the characters, and though some (such as Alice's sad alcoholic father) seem to have gotten slightly shortchanged in the mix, even the peripheral ones each get at least one genuinely memorable moment. As the young lead, Courtney does a commendable job of balancing his character's devastating loss with his devotion to friends and growing feelings for Alice, who is played to perfection by Fanning -- especially in a scene where she reveals an unknown detail about the accident that took Joe's mom, and the conflicting feelings that have haunted her ever since. It's easy to get cynical about nepotism when it starts to seem like every movie star's kid or younger sibling wants a chance to shine, too, but it's obvious from her performance here that she would have likely succeeded even without her famous surname. As the malevolent Nelec, Emmerich achieves Spielbergian villain perfection; early in the film we're told just how far Nelec will go in order to keep his secret safe, and after seeing how he handles his enemies, we have little doubt he has the capacity for true ruthlessness. And while composer Michael Giacchino's effective score may never soar to the majestic heights of John Williams' iconic work in films like E.T. and Raiders of the Lost Ark, it still manages to capture that same distinctive tone in a manner that echoes those great works without straining to re-create them. If there's any major fault to be found in Super 8, perhaps it's the fact that it traces the structure of Spielberg's own E.T. just a little too closely for comfort. Still, there are enough key differences to make Abrams' take on the material a completely original story in its own right, and anytime a filmmaker chooses to tell his or her own story rather than working from existing material, movie fans have something to be thankful for. Which leads to one of the last, and perhaps best, ways that Super 8 calls back to the era before every movie was a potential franchise in the making: in the end, we're left not with a cliffhanger or a sudden sting that indicates the entire story has yet to be told, but with a sense of wonder and amazement as both the emotional and fantastical story arcs draw to a tidy, satisfying close. It's funny how such a simple concept like creating a self-contained story can seem so bold; then again, it pays to remember that Abrams is taking his cues from an experienced master, rather than an eager upstart seeking to ensure career stability for years to come.

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Product Details

Release Date:
11/22/2011
UPC:
0097363552840
Original Release:
2011
Rating:
PG13
Source:
Paramount
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Time:
1:51:00
Sales rank:
6,987

Special Features

Closed Caption; The Dream Behind Super8; The Visitor Lives - Creating the Creature; Director J.J. Abrams & filmmakers' commentary

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Kyle Chandler Actor,Jackson Lamb
Elle Fanning Actor,Alice Dainard
Joel Courtney Joe Lamb,Actor
Amanda Michalka Actor
Gabriel Basso Martin,Actor
Noah Emmerich Actor,Nelec
Ron Eldard Actor,Louis Dainard
Riley Griffiths Charles,Actor
Ryan Lee Cary,Actor
Katie Lowes Actor,Tina
Zach Mills Preston,Actor
AJ Michalka Jen Kaznyk
Jessica Tuck Mrs. Kaznyk
Joel McKinnon Miller Mr. Kaznyk
Andrew Miller Kaznyk Twin
Jakob Miller Kaznyk Twin
Jade Griffiths Benji Kaznyk
Britt Flatmo Peg Kaznyk
Glynn Turman Dr. Woodward
David Gallagher Donny
Richard T. Jones Overmyer
Amanda Foreman Lydia Connors - Ch 14 News Anchor
Michael Giacchino Deputy Crawford
Bruce Greenwood Cooper
Dale Dickey Edie
Jack Axelrod Mr. Blakely
Dan Castellaneta Izzy
Ben Gavin Deputy Milner
Jay Scully Deputy Skadden
Michael Hitchcock Deputy Rosko
James Hebert Deputy Tally
Thomas F. Duffy Rooney
Teri Clark Linden Mrs. Babbit
Tom Quinn Mr. McCandless
Katherine Yerves Woman in Office
Caitriona Balfe Elizabeth Lamb
Koa Melvin Baby Joe
Bingo O'Malley Mr. Harkin
Brett Rice Sheriff Pruitt
Beau Knapp Breen
Tony Guma Sergeant Walters
Marco Sanchez Hernandez
Jonathan Dixon Airman Nevil
Tim Griffin Commando
Patrick St. Esprit Weapons Commander
Tom Williams Flame Thrower
Emerson Brooks Military Bus Driver
Robert B. Quiroz Boy in EVAC
Greg Grunberg Sitcom Actor

Technical Credits
J.J. Abrams Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Maryann Brandon Editor
Bryan Burk Producer
George Drakoulias Musical Direction/Supervision
Bonni Flowers Makeup
Larry Fong Cinematographer
Phil Carr Forster Camera Operator
Michael Giacchino Score Composer
Tommy Gormley Asst. Director,Co-producer
Industrial Light & Magic Animator
Mary Jo Markey Editor
Udi Nedivi Associate Producer
Ha Nguyen Costumes/Costume Designer
Michelle Rejwan Associate Producer
Guy Riedel Executive Producer
Steven Riley Special Effects Supervisor
Ben Rosenblatt Associate Producer
David E. Scott Art Director
Steven Spielberg Producer
April Webster Casting
Alyssa Weisberg Casting
Martin Whist Production Designer

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Super 8
1. Chapter 1
2. Chapter 2
3. Chapter 3
4. Chapter 4
5. Chapter 5
6. Chapter 6
7. Chapter 7
8. Chapter 8
9. Chapter 9
10. Chapter 10
11. Chapter 11
12. Chapter 12
13. Chapter 13
14. Chapter 14
15. Chapter 15
16. Chapter 16
17. Chapter 17
18. Chapter 18

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