By Myong Choi
Special to Nonstop
It’s so refreshing when Hollywood takes a chance and throws a ridiculously insane budget at a movie that’s not a toy franchise, a comic book franchise or a sequel. Last year “Inception” proved that an original idea could work. This year that movie is “Super 8.”
Of course, a film directed by J.J. Abrams (“Star Trek,” “Mission: Impossible III,” TV’s “Lost”) and produced by Steven Spielberg can’t really be called a gamble, but still, I love it when I can watch a movie and truly not know what to expect.
“Super 8” opens with a group of young boys filming an amateur zombie film in 1979 when a train derails in the background of their scene. While retrieving their footage they realize that the train was carrying mysterious cargo, verified when the U.S. Air Force shows up and takes over. Strange events start occurring around town and people go missing, including their friend Alice. The Air Force evacuates all the residents, but the boys set out to return to figure out what’s happening and get their friend back.
While the movie does feature great special effects and action scenes (the train crash is spectacular), what I really loved is that at its core, it’s about a group of young friends who are just hanging out and working together on something they all love, while constantly insulting each other. This is what kids that age do. Alice (Elle Fanning) is especially appealing because she plays that one cute girl they all have a crush on, who’s even more attractive because she shares their same geeky hobby. The romance between her and Joe (Joel Courtney) is very sweet and believable. I would pay to watch another movie about this group of friends even without the special effects and thrills, I enjoyed their friendship and dialogue that much.
It does seem almost as if Abrams set out to make this film a tribute to Spielberg. There are similarities to “The Goonies,” “E.T.” and “Jurassic Park,” all films Spielberg either directed or produced: the classic elements of family, wonder, discovery and thrills. So even though “Super 8” may fall just a bit short of achieving the magic of those memorable films, it is thoroughly enjoyable and I highly recommend it. I also hope this movie is successful and paves the way for more original films in the future.
By the way, make sure to stay through the credits to watch the final product of the boys’ zombie film. It’s a riot!