It's been a long time since I've seen a movie that made me feel the way Super 8 did. In fact, you have to go back to the early films of this films producer, Steven Spielberg. Super 8 is one of those rare movies where you have characters who are real people, thrust into a story that's way beyond anything they can comprehend, and you get to watch how they react to it. It's a simple concept that most filmmakers have forgotten these days. Thank heavens for JJ Abrams, who has created a movie indebted to everything great about a Spielberg movie, but completely his own.
It's hard to classify Super 8 to any one genre. It's parts sci-fi, parts fantasy, part romance, part comedy, and yet, it all works together, mainly because Abrams knows that life has multiple levels, sometimes at the same time. In a small Ohio steel town in 1979, a group of kids come together to make a zombie movie, only to get caught in the middle of a firey train crash, which has released something mysterious in the town. The military shows up. What has been let loose by the crash? Actually, it doesn't really matter.
This movie is about people, and its populated with characters we care about. There's our hero Joe, only 14 and dealing with a recently deceased mother, distant father, and hormones. It's a lot to take at one time, but Abrams is knows its all of those things that make us care what happens to this kid. The acting is overall superb, from Joel Courtney as Joe to Elle Fanning as the girl he comes to have a thing for. While the end doesn't live up to the rest of the film, it actually didn't bother me. The journey, as every filmmaker knows, is the thing. And Abrams and Spielberg have created an amazing journey.