An unmissable close encounter

2011-07-29 15:45

Fans can breathe a huge sigh of relief – I know I did – that Super 8 lives up to all the hype.

A collaboration between Lost creator JJ Abrams and

master of science fiction Steven Spielberg, this film has been on my

“most want to see” list all year.

Abrams is a well-seasoned writer of sci-fi and drama on both the big and

small screens – in the early 1990s he wrote the screenplays for

Regarding Henry and Forever Young, and for TV he’s created Felicity,

Alias, Lost and Fringe.

Lost captured the imagination of audiences

everywhere for seasons and this film has the same sensibility as that

show.

Film: Super 8 (UIP)

Director: JJ Abrams

Featuring: Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, Joel Courtney, Riley Griffiths, Ryan Lee, Gabriel Basso, Zach Mills, Glynn Turman, Noah Emmerich and Richard T Jones

Rating: 8/10

That is enough to hook most viewers, but Super 8 also channels vintage Spielberg – Close Encounters of the Third Kind and ET: The Extra-Terrestrial. Abrams says that his aim was for Super 8 to pay homage to these films.

The tweeny characters of this film, which is set in a nondescript American town in 1979, are in the process of making a movie about zombies.

Charles (newcomer Riley Griffiths) is the director, a very bossy one, while Joe (Joel Courtney) takes care of special effects and make-up.

Cary (Ryan Lee) is a pyromaniac in charge of the camera and Martin (Gabriel Basso) is the star.

The only thing missing is a leading lady and Alice (Elle Fanning), the best-looking girl in school, is perfect for the job.
 
Charles manages to recruit her, which throws Joe’s life into further disarray as he has a gigantic crush on her.
 
The would-be filmmakers head for an isolated train station in Alice’s dad’s car.

Everything is going well – there’s even a train speeding into shot – when suddenly a man in a truck drives onto the tracks and straight into the speeding train.

It’s mayhem and the children are lucky to escape with their lives, but within hours the place is swarming with government officials. What are they so desperate to hide from everyone?

It is Joe who is the central character. Having recently lost his mother in a nasty industrial accident, he is trying to reconnect with his emotionally shattered policeman father, Jackson (Kyle Chandler), while coping with the agony of first love.

All this while the town is in lockdown and his father is becoming increasingly suspicious of the military tramping everywhere in the wake of the crash.

All the children in this film are incredibly good, but the two leads stand out. Super 8 is Courtney’s first film role, but he’s already been signed up for a pair of other films, which comes as no surprise.

As for Fanning, the 13-year-old sister of Dakota, she is destined – like her kin – for superstardom.

No stranger to the camera, she has been in all sorts of films since she was two, but usually as the younger version of a character.

Super 8 is her first big starring role and she aces it. She has that indefinable something that makes for a long, long career in Hollywood, especially coupled with acting talent in spades.

I had hoped that the home-grown Jock of the Bushveld would be my movie recommendation of the week, but it’s not even close.

Super 8 is an intoxicating blend of the mystery and suspense of Lost, and the spirit of adventure and wonder of ET.

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