The film is about a group of boys and one girl (the love interest) in Ohio making a movie for a film competition. During a midnight filming session, the youngsters witness (and are nearly killed by) the derailing of a US military train. Although the kids try to carry on with their normal lives, strange things begin to happen in their town, causing panic. The military is being something less than cooperative with the townspeople. The town is evacuated as the military troops in the track down and kill the thing which is causing people to go missing. When Alice (love interest) goes missing, the boys involve themselves trying to find her (again risking their lives).
Although the overall plot of the movie may sound a bit clichéd, there is a strong realism throughout the film which sustains the audience's credibility. My family is from western Pennsylvania and the town in which this movie was filmed is just spot on. From the looming industrial plant to the houses to in interior decorating, I nearly believed I had crash landed in my dad's 1970s kid-dom.
The five or six child actors are absolutely superb. Part of it is due to their talent. But an even bigger part of the credit must be given to the writers and director who allow their kid-ness to shine through naturally. The script is so realistic and natural that one forgets that these kids have actually memorized their lines from paper. The way they communicate is just as if we were watching them squabble on the playground or on the phone.
The overall filming of Super 8 is very well done. I'm not usually one for pyrotechnics and things just blowing up for the sake of it, but the train crash scene was AMAZING to watch. I don't know if it was the timing, the special effects, the sound, or a combination of all three, but I know every person in that theatre was gripping their seats and holding their breath for the entire length of the scene.
The film also had a very strong message to convey to audiences. The film represents many things: it is an alien film, yes. But it's also a father-daughter/father-son story, a "my-mom-just-died" story, a friendship epic, and a romance. It's all of these without being to scattered or confusing. A strong thread of just natural, unaffected, unassuming love holds the film together and yet it never threatens to become to sickeningly sentimental.
I would strongly recommend this film. If you've seen previews or heard about it but you don't really think that it's your type of movie, think again. This movie does not fall into any specific "type" or genre. It's just a good all-around film which will really engage any viewer. In some ways it is similar to E.T. but you would have to see it and validate the comparison for yourself. It might be a little much for kids but I think anyone older than 12 or 13 would probably enjoy it.
If you see this movie, comment on this blog to tell me what you thought! I'd love to hear about your experience, even if you disagree with my review.