Sunday, November 25, 2012

Super 8

 Usually I don't review films that are more than 6 months old, but with "Super 8" I'm going to make an exception. I had really looked forward to watching this film as it is written and directed by J. J: Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg, but it turned out to be almost impossible to get to watch it!

"Super 8" opened in theatres in June 2011 and made it to Denmark, where I live, on July 28th, 2011. That's all well and good, but the problem was that although it was shown in two different cinemas in my hometown, it disappeared almost immediately again. I only had one shot at it the day before the last show, but when I realised that the film didn't start until 9.30 p.m. - which meant that with its 112 minutes running time + commercials and trailers it wouldn't end until midnight - I gave up. At that point our local public transportation had stopped for the day and there was no way I was able to get back home, so I had to wait for the DVD.

The DVD was released in early 2012 and I expected to get it for my birthday, but I didn't. After that I forgot about it until recently when I spotted it in the local DVD store for only £4.95. I bought it straight away and watched it the same evening with my 13 year old daughter and we were both surprised at what we saw.

"Super 8" is not really horror and it's not really sci-fi, either, but a supernatural suspense film, telling the story of a bunch of kids who in the summer of 1979 shoot a super 8 film in a small town in Ohio. While filming, they witness a catastrophic train crash and shortly after people, dogs and electric appliances start to disappear from town. Something inexplicable and terrifying has been set in motion due to the train wreck and despite military opposition, the kids set out to solve the mystery.

When I watched the film, I guess what I had expected to see was a "mashup" of "The Blair Witch Project", "The Day of the Triffids" and John Carpenter's "The Fog". Instead I got a cross between "The Goonies" and "E.T." with a dash of "District 9". Furthermore it's a film that will appeal to mostly a young audience aged 10-12 despite the PG-13 rating.

When that is said, it's a charming little film, funny, moving and exciting, and the young cast acts so well. Joel Courtney as Joe Lamb - the young hero of the film - is believable, touching and very likeable. Elle Fanning as Alice Dainard is impressive, showing her wide range as an actress, and Riley Griffiths portraying Charles Kaznyk - a part that reminded me of a young Orson Welles - is confident, cool and a bit manic, like he should be. The rest of the kids are great, too. Of the adult cast especially Ron Eldard as Alice's father Louis Dainard stays in mind. His portray of a poor, disillusioned (and drunk) single parent is superb.

I can't say that I was disappointed in "Super 8" as it is a good film, but it was just so different from what I had expected. I guess what I liked the most about it was that over the film's credits, you actually get to see Charles' super 8 film "The Case", which the kids had been shooting during the entire film. That bit was hilarious and a very nice surprise.

Four out of five stars: **** (but only because my PC won't allow me to give it 3½ stars!)

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