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Teacher Commits Suicide| Leisure by Arnold Leibrandt
While his students are arrested for shooting a suspicious video
Super 8 (2011) is the latest American science fiction film from the movie mastermind that is J.J Abrams.
The film follows a group of children who are shooting their own home made super-8 film for a local horror competition.
The film is set in 1979, where the main character 14-year-old Joe Lamb’s (Joel Courtney) mother has just recently passed away due to an accident at the factory where she works.
Joel tries to get past his grief by spending as much time with his friends as possible, which means doing the sound for a film that his best friend is directing for a local horror film competition. But things start to get complicated when Alice (Elle Fanning), the daughter of the man responsible for Joel’s mother’s death, joins the project. Not only that, but Joel finds himself crushing on Alice.
Late one night the gang decides to go shoot a part of their film on the train tracks on the outskirts of town, when a train unexpectedly passes by.
The group decides that it would be great for the film if they could manage to get the passing train in the scene. Just then, strangely, they notice a car drive onto the train tracks and go head-to-head with the train. Suddenly there is a collision of extreme proportions with the train being derailed and the car torn in two.
Luckily the kids manage to stay out of harm’s way, but being only 14 years old, they clearly have to go investigate the “accident”, and of course get it all on film.
As they are investigating something suddenly bursts out of one of the train’s compartments and darts off into the dark of the night. And just when it seems like things are at their strangest, the kids find that the driver of the vehicle was none other than their biology teacher. And then the military show up to the scene.
The kids quickly disperse and head home.
The next day things start to get even stranger when reports start flooding into the local police station about car engines going missing, dogs running away to neighbouring towns and local quickie marts being destroyed. Not only that, but the sheriff has also gone missing.
Now the man in charge is none other than deputy sheriff Jackson Lamb (Kyle Chandler); yes you guessed it, Joel’s father.
The military refuse to give any information to the sheriff’s department and before long the entire town is being evacuated to a nearby military base because a mysterious and suspect wildfire is spreading through the town.
The gang reunites back at the base but Alice is nowhere to be found and when her father claims that she was somehow abducted by “something”, nobody believes him except the kids.
So they take it upon themselves to sneak back into the military infested town and search their biology teacher’s class for any information he might have on the mysterious creature, and at the same time figure out how to save Alice.
The kids find what they were looking for when they discover their teacher’s research, but things aren’t in the clear just yet as they still need to find Alice, the military has just started to attack the town and they have just found out that the creature is actually an alien that crashed landed here and was kept prisoner by the government; now he has escaped, he’s homesick, he’s angry and he’s hungry.
The film was written and directed by Abrams, the man behind movies such as Mission Impossible 3 (2006), Cloverfield (2008) and Star Trek (2009); TV shows such as Lost, Fringe and Alias; as well as the keyboard solo in the Lonely Island song Cool Guys Don’t Look at Explosions. And if that wasn’t enough, the film was produced by none other than Steven Spielberg himself.
Super 8 has a strong narrative and was shot just as well, the special effects are good, however, not great, and when you finally do see the alien it’s a tad disappointing.
The storyline has an interesting take surrounding the alien itself as it leaves the audience unsure of whether to pity or fear it. Also the take of a group of kids and a supernatural creature gives the film a feel of a mix between E.T. (1982) and IT (1990), except that it’s not nearly as long as the two and has a much better title.
The acting performances off all the cast members are good, with Elle Fanning being the standout of the film. Based on her performance she should have an exceptional future career in Hollywood, maybe even better than that of her older sister Dakota.
If you are a die-hard Abrams fan, chances are you saw the teaser on YouTube of the film about a year before the film’s release; if so you may be slightly disappointed as the scene of the train accident on the teaser was shot separately to the actual film, and just so happened to be better. This is a slight technicality and nothing to turn you away from the film.
All in all it is generally an exciting film throughout with most critics praising it apart from its somewhat “cheesy” ending. It received generally good reviews, was number 1 at the box office on its opening weekend and managed to pull a large profit. You can’t argue with facts and therefore I have to agree with the other critics. If you’re a sci-fi fan or an Abrams fan give this film a watch, granted it won’t live up to your expectations but it will definitely keep you entertained for the full 90 minutes.
Starring: Elle Fanning; Joel Courtney and Kyle Chandler
Directed By: J.J Abrams
Rating: 3.5 out of 5