“Super 8” is the most enjoyable and endearing film of the summer of 2011, and perhaps of the entire year. Writer & director J. J. Abrams has crafted a movie that is a marvel.
Set in a mall town in Ohio in 1979, it follows the adventures of a group of middle-school boys (and one girl, played by Elle Fanning) who are making a home movie about zombies. As they are preparing to shoot a pivotal scene at a local train station late at night, a freight train comes barreling through the station and derails. The boys get most of it on film, including a mysterious occurrence involving a strange sound and a mysterious presence they can’t identify. Soon the Air Force is all over the little village, as the mystery deepens and becomes supremely threatening to everyone in the little burg.
There’s also another important element in the movie about one of the boys and his father, who is a local deputy sheriff. The boy’s Mom has just been killed in an accident in a steel mill after she had taken a shift over for another employee who is a chronic drunk. Fanning plays the daughter of that man, so obviously it sets up a lot of issues that need to be worked out.
“Super 8” has a sense of youthful adventure and wonderful escapism I haven’t seen since “E.T.” It has hope, a dash of spirituality and a heart as big as the theater you’ll see it in.
“Super 8” is the movie not to be missed this summer. Rated PG-13, it is acceptable for the entire family.