Super 8

Riley Griffiths and Joel Courtney in the scene of Paramount Pictures' Super 8.

Back in late December (which was when I watched this, and started writing this review article), I received J.J. Abrams’ latest project Super 8 on DVD, which revolves around a group of early teenage filmmaking friends who witness, and almost get killed by, a derailing train in the middle of making a zombie film in the year 1979. Unknown to them in the moment, they also catch the event and aftermath on Super 8 film with the still-rolling camera. After the derailment, air force troops immediately appear to clean up the mess, while mysterious events happen in this small town. When the film roll is developed a few days later, the filmmaking friends discover what was really on that train, and they also find out the reason the military so desperately wants to keep it a secret.

I wasn’t entirely sure what I’d get myself into, given J.J. Abrams’ recent history with what I consider as both good (Alias, Mission: Impossible III) and not-so-good projects (Lost, Star Trek), and his endless love with gratuitous lens flares (a feature of Abrams’ films that may or may not have been turned into some sort of drinking game). Then again, he has also paired up with legend Steven Spielberg as the producer on this project, which would hopefully bring the quality up a few notches. I don’t believe Spielberg would go for just any project out there – I’d think he would know “good” when he sees it (or fully trust those he enters into partnership with).

Thankfully, the story itself comes across as good, and we follow the group of filmmaking friends more than external shots, meaning that we see the action more or less from their point of view, rather than being told from a distance. You can really immerse yourself into this story.

Both the special and visual effects are in the place they’re supposed to, and are only where necessary. There are also a few things hidden in the background, and you won’t notice these until you’ve seen this film a few times (I was actually made aware of this in the behind-the-scenes featurettes on the DVD, and I went back into the film afterwards just to confirm those sightings).

I did feel that there were a few missing plot points, and slightly silly antics that didn’t quite fit in (although they were very few), plus the unnecessary lens flares (yes, you can’t escape them in this one, either), which prevent me from giving this film a full score.

But, as a whole, a great film. Absolutely recommended for the sci-fi buff.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆