Business rating: 1.5/5 stars
Star cast: Joel Courtney, Riley Griffiths, Ryan Lee, Gabriel Basso, Zach Mills, Kyle Chandler, Glynn Turman.
Plot: A group of children, who are shooting a film, witness a disastrous train accident. The weird accident and the aftermath changes things around them. What happens then?
What’s Good: The kids’ performances; the exciting suspense in the first half; the visual effects; the background score.
What’s Bad: The disappointing second half; the confused screenplay which includes elements from many genres; the tepid climax.
Verdict: Super 8 is an average fare that will not do any wonders at the Indian box-office.
Loo break: A couple in the second half.
Watch or Not?: Catch Super 8 if you are a cinema-lover.
Paramount Pictures, Amblin Entertainment and Bad Robot’s Super 8 is the story of a group of young amateur filmmakers who witness a massive train accident after which inexplicable things start happening in their small town.
It is the summer holidays of 1979, kids Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney), Charles (Riley Griffiths), Cary (Ryan Lee), Martin (Gabriel Basso) and Preston (Zach Mills) are together making an amateur zombie movie using Charles’ Super 8 mm camera. Joe, who is the son of Jackson (Kyle Chandler), the Deputy Sheriff of the small town of Lillian, has recently lost his mother in an accident. One night, when the boys are joined by a girl-schoolmate, Alice (Elle Fanning), at their shooting at a railway station, a weird and devastating accident takes place. Dr. Woodward (Glynn Turman), the biology teacher from their school, rams his car head-on with the speeding train, causing that accident. The kids just about manage to save themselves from getting hurt and they find the grievously injured Woodward, who tells them to not speak of this incident to anyone. The kids rush back home and keep mum about the fact that they were at the spot of the accident, something that grabs the headlines the next day. Alice, whose drunkard father, Louis (Ron Eldard), is hated by Joe’s father, refuses to participate in the filmmaking anymore. However, Joe and Alice soon get close to each other, in spite of their respective fathers warning them against it. But things take a turn for the worse as the town starts witnessing weird incidents – all the dogs disappear, numerous household appliances and car engines get stolen, electricity supply becomes inexplicably undependable, etc. Soon, the US Air Force camps in the town and within days, orders an evacuation. Even as Joe’s father is trying to help hapless citizens and figure out what is going on, the kids, who know more than anyone else, stumble upon the truth. Soon, Joe’s courage and the kids’ skills are called into action. What is the thing that is causing the chaos in the town? What is the connection between Dr. Woodward and the Air Force? What happens to Joe and Alice’s teen love? All these questions are answered in the rest of the film.
Super 8 Review: Script Analysis
J.J. Abrams’ story is based on a novel and interesting premise which will be liked by fans of cinema and the common audience as well. The screenplay allows for some beautiful moments, courtesy the kids’ antics, and a deep emotion of dread and suspense owing to the mystery behind what’s happening in the small town. The relationship between Joe and his father on the one hand and his loss (after his mother’s death) is also heartfelt. So is his flirting with the young Alice.
However, things take a turn for the worse as soon as the nature of the threat facing the town is revealed to the audience. The screenplay becomes predictable and comparisons to E.T. and War Of The Worlds (films by Steven Spielberg, who is the executive producer of this film) will be obvious. And as the action shifts from the kids to the adults for some time, things start to unravel. The glitzy war-like sequences and the fights do nothing for the audience, apart from a few hair-raising moments when the kids have the proverbial sword hanging above their heads. The climax, when Joe, the obvious protagonist of the film, is shown to accomplish something big, does not convince the audience at all.
All in all, the script is such that it holds limited appeal. The end credits, in which the amateur movie that the kids make, is shown, is very entertaining.
Super 8 Review: Performances & Technical Aspects
Joel Courtney delivers a very natural performance. Elle Fanning acts like a dream. The other kid actors –Riley Griffiths, Ryan Lee, Gabriel Basso and Zach Mills – do brilliant jobs. Kyle Chandler, Ron Eldard, Glynn Turman and others support well.
J.J. Abrams’ direction is good for the kind of the subject he is dealing with. He botches up the second half to a certain extent, making it unpalatable for a large section of the audience. Michael Giacchino’s background music amplifies the mood of the narrative. Cinematography (Larry Fong) is excellent. The visual effects and action scenes are top-notch. Editing, by Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey, could have been better in the latter half.
Super 8 Review: The Last Word
On the whole, Super 8 is an average entertainer with more appeal for those who are interested in cinema per se. It will fail to do much at the Indian box-office.