Super 8 brings extra to the terrestrial

Superheroes

Superheroes (via Jane Storm)

Whether you're a Lost geek or an Alias aficionado, a Fringe fan or a supporter of the Star Trek reboot, J.J. Abrams' work seems to invoke a sense of fierce loyalty amongst most geeks. His highly anticipated Super 8 has a broader appeal, but will still give a geek-gasm for the Abrarmy. Set in the summer of 1979, it follows Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) a middle school student still grieving the death of his mother after an accident at a steel factory. His stoic father Jackson (Kyle Chandler) pours himself into his work as a deputy to avoid the situation at home and Joe pours himself into working on his friends zombie movie.

When the gaggle of Goonies-esque kids sneak out to film a night scene at the train station, they witness a catastrophic train derailment. Freaked out and feeling lucky to have escaped with their lives, the kids vow not to tell anyone they were there. But that's when things start to get weird. When Deputy Lamb tries to investigate the accident, he's stonewalled by military personal who had mysterious cargo on the train. In town, hundreds of dogs have run away, electrical appliances are malfunctioning and people are going missing. It seems something has escaped from the train and that something is not of this world.

The cast, a combination of newcomers and veteran performers, elevate Super 8 with pitch-perfect performances. Friday Night Light's Chandler is brilliant as he always is, but the kids steal the show. Plucked from obscurity, Courtney is a revelation and able to hold his own against the impressive and charismatic Elle Fanning, younger sister of Dakota. After her breakthrough performance in Somewhere last year (which was far more deserving of an Oscar nom than Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit), Fanning proves once again she's a young actress with incredible talent. Together as romantically linked characters, Courtney and Fanning create a sense of innocence and humanity that outshines any of the A-grade special effects. After risking everything to save Fanning's Alice from the alien's lair, when Joe mutters the line “I'm just doing the best I can to save you” - it's one of the most touching moments in cinema this year.

Super 8 is a magical, intelligent, nostalgic, thrilling and mesmerising spectacle of a film that stands tall alongside Steven Spielberg's classic E.T. Spielberg serves as a producer on this and brings a sense of grandiose spectacle to the production. But more than anything Super 8 is Abrams love letter to monster movies and the seventies. Super 8's alien is so not the “phone home” type, but rather a homage to the terrifying yet endearing creatures of schlocky sci-fi features and B-grade horror films. Joe is Abrams, who started his career as a model maker and make-up effects guy on low budget flicks and there's such a sense of authenticity to the young characters it feels as if some situations have been plucked straight out of the writer/directors childhood. Like all of Abrams work, the flick is loaded with snappy dialogue and clever clues that let the audience uncover the mystery alongside the characters. Super 8 is everything you would hope. Then a whole lot more. Super 8 is in cinemas Thursday, June 9.

P.S. You MUST stay for the end credits to watch The Case – the hilarious and oh-so-cute Super 8 film the kids were making in the movie.

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