DIRECTOR: J J Abrams
CAST: Joel Courtney,Riley Griffiths,Elle Fanning
Produced by Steven Spielberg,Super 8 has an alien,a group of children and a small town. However,an E.T. it isn’t. The children here are into making slasher movies on 8 mm film,dressed up as zombies,with fake guns,fake blood and even fake nails on which people get fake impaled.
It’s during one such shoot,after midnight it’s 1979 and apparently parents don’t notice when kids frequently sneak off for long periods at a railway station that they witness a strange train crash.
A truck drives onto the track and causes the goods train to derail in an explosion so massive and a destruction so vast,that it’s only in the movies that six kids under the ages of 13 still walk back to explore. Joe sees a strange pounding from inside one of the bogies,another sees explosives in large quantities,while they all witness strange metallic blocks,and fear they see a blood spatter at a spot and still they continue coming in.
They are warned off by the man in the truck that drove on to the track their teacher,as it turns out and later alerted by the swarm of US Air Force personnel who take over the site.
Soon,people start disappearing from the town,strange incidents occur,cars get smashed,power keeps flickering,dogs go missing and still,nobody thinks of reining those children in. So the six including the beautiful Alice (Fanning) keep shooting that film they are trying to make.
The problem with Super 8 is the different strands the film moves in,from these kids obsessed with zombie movies to the tension between Joes and Alices fathers due to an accident that killed Joe’s mother,to the town that is shaken but strangely not scared,to a town meeting where someone suddenly screams It’s the Soviets!,to an Air Force (the film never explains why it alone is dealing with an admittedly serious problem) that seems like a vigilante outfit without any central control with the result that the film never comes around to the alien concerned till almost the end.
At least the children,totally un-selfconscious except for Fanning as the grown-up Alice,make it worth the wait. Even if the fake blood they spill is disturbing,it’s heartening to see them try and imbibe humanism into a zombie story by bringing in the character of a concerned wife. The shot just before the train crash is,in fact,vintage Spielberg of children not so innocent as we think,and not so knowing as they believe.
As for the alien,it remains an alien,with two eyes,one flaring nostril,gigantic arms,a monstrous machine,and a vague agenda the universe after all is a big hole.