Super 8 (JJ Abrams, 2011)

What's it about? Set in 1979, a group of young teenagers are making a homemade movie on their Super 8 camera, with new recruit Alice (Elle Fanning) raising the adolescent pulses of Joe (Joel Courtney) and the rest of the gang. Whilst filming one night they happen to capture a spectacular train crash, which they delightedly realise they can use in their film. But strange occurrences start to take place in their town with people disappearing and electrics going haywire. Just what exactly was on that train?

Is it any good? Remember when you were young and hung around with your friends, riding BMXs round the suburbs, saying 'Come on guys!' every 5 mins and getting into all sorts of crazy adventures? No, of course you don't, that sort of stuff only happened in the movies. Movies like ET and The Goonies and Explorers. And if you grew up with those, then Super 8 is likely to stimulate some nostalgic memories as it is an affectionate and unashamed homage to that sort of film. Those less familiar with 80s fare like that will still find a film which is well-assembled, if lacking any real substance as JJ Abrams rummages around in his box of Lost tricks to fashion some teaser moments, some good set-pieces and (naturally) some unexplained plot points. It's all a slightly uneven mix of adventure, sci-fi and coming-of-age genres, and is unlikely to stick long in the memory, but it's all sweet-natured enough to be perfectly enjoyable. It might even make you set aside the iPhone and dig out those old walkie-talkies to see if they still work. And nice to see Iggy Pop* roll back the years in the role of Alice's dad.
(*Not really)

Anything else I should know? Pretty much every review used the phrase 'Spielbergian' to describe the film, understandably enough given the elements involved; small-town suburban setting, the single-parent family, the sci-fi elements and, of course, the presence of one Steven Spielberg in the producer chair. Abrams is an unabashed Spielberg acolyte and discusses his hero-worship of him in the video below. Or here's an article about it written for The Guardian by Katie Puckrik. Yes! - that Katie Puckrik. That name will mean a double-whammy of nostalgia in one post for some readers. For everyone else, you might like to know that if you wait around for the end-credits of Super 8, you'll get a chance to see the homemade zombie movie-within-the-movie.

What does the Fonz think? Not so much Super 8 as Good 7.

Buy it on Amazon

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