Some people may be a little confused or skeptical of a movie titled after a 1970s method of movie making that uses 8mm film. Don’t be.
The film begins with the main character Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) suffering the loss of his mother after a tragic accident. His father, Jackson Lamb (Kyle Chandler), is now forced to raise the boy on his own. While struggling with the loss of his wife, Jackson wants to send his son away to a baseball camp for the summer. Joe is doesn’t want to go and insists on staying home to help his group of friends direct a zombie movie for an amateur film competition. Both are forced to change their plans when tragedy strikes their town.
While filming a scene for their movie at an old train depot outside of town, a disastrous train crash occurs that almost claims the lives of the group of friends. The friends soon discover that the train wreck was no accident and that their lives may be in danger for witnessing it. Something on board the United States Air Force train is set free and the military will stop at nothing to get it back.
Joe’s best friend Charles (Riley Griffiths) is the director of the zombie film. He wants to keep making the movie amidst the chaos of what is beginning to unfold in their town. Meanwhile, Joe is developing a mutual crush on his friend, Alice Dainard (Elle Fanning), the girl set to play the damsel in distress in the zombie film. After experiencing the train wreck, Alice wants nothing more to do with making the film. It is up to Joe to convince her otherwise. However, there is just one problem; Alice’s father is indirectly responsible for Joe’s mother’s death. Despite the reckless actions of Alice’s father, she decides to keep working on the movie.
With the train wreckage and military swarming throughout their town, Charles decides to use all the commotion in his film for production value. It’s not long before the kids realize what exactly is going on and the danger they are all in. After Alice vanishes, it’s up to Joe and the gang to rescue her from whatever was on the Air Force train.
The film is written and directed by J.J. Abrams (“Forever Young,” “Star Trek”) and produced with the help of Steven Spielberg (“E.T.,” “Saving Private Ryan”). The movie takes us back in time to 1979 when there were no cell phones, World Wide Web or camcorders. The nostalgia in the film is well portrayed and planned. It makes a great setting for the story.
This film is not your traditional sci-fi movie. In fact, you can’t even tell it is a sci-fi film until well over halfway through it. The special effects are gripping and will keep you on the edge of your seat. Although teenagers, Joel Courtney and Elle Fanning’s acting makes the film worth watching alone. The two are very talented and undoubtedly have successful careers in the film business. The movie is full of clever jokes and plot twists.
The movie lives up to the claim of being the 2011 blockbuster of the summer. If you are looking for an action packed film that will make you feel like a kid again, as well as scare the heck out of you, then rent “Super 8.”