Contributed By Theresa Tan
Super 8 is a lovingly written and directed sci-fi thriller set in the late ‘70s that marries core elements from some of Steven Spielberg’s top-grossing movies: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind and The Goonies. One of today’s leading names in film and television, J.J. Abrams (Lost, Star Trek) has stitched together a riveting tale of the sheriff’s adolescent son Joe Lamb (the doe-eyed Joel Courtney), a special effects makeup geek, and his friends who embark on the adventure of a lifetime one night, when they sneak to a deserted railway station to shoot a Super 8 movie for a competition. They inadvertently witness a train crash, but escape before the air force arrives to do a cleanup.
Strange things begin to happen. People disappear one by one, captured by a fearsome unseen creature. Cars are stripped of their engines. Joe’s little town of Lillian is soon beset with military trucks and tight-lipped officers, who start evacuating the townsfolk. Joe and his friends rush back into the town in search of their missing friend Alice (the brilliant Elle Fanning), and along the way, discover an alien that has been imprisoned on earth and is about to make its escape.
Under a lesser director, this movie would have become a spoof. But Abrams’ skilful characterization and powerful suspension of disbelief (both qualities first possessed by Spielberg, who is producer on Super 8) turn an implausible plot into one of the most engrossing films of the year.