Super 8
(guest review by Kappa Dreamer)
This movie deserves to do well this summer. Produced by Spielberg, and written and directed by JJ Abrams("Cloverfield" and TV's "Lost"); it is a tasty mix of sci-fi, action, special effects, and summer adventure....with a creature-feature homage that is well balanced.
The movie is set in 1979, and recaptures a time when technology didn't allow us to have things served up so quickly. Super 8mm film takes 3 days to be developed; so when a group of teens are using their summer to make a movie they have to wait to see what's contained on their reels. When they inadvertantly capture a military train wreck, we feel their anxiety as we wait to see what shows up. The trailers and commercials for "Super 8" make it clear that something escaped. That something keeps us wondering for a good portion of the film. By the time we learn what's in those grainy images, we've already become more interested in another layer of the story: the different relationships between family and friends.
This movie works becuase of what it DOESN'T have: technology in your pocket, and the taken-for-granted information on your smartphone.  So often we can now look at treasured older movies, and realize that instant messaging and images captured on digital cameras and cell phones would take so much tension out of our favorites. By having this story set in the late 70's it's modern enough to relate to, but the lack of texting and instant tweets allows some real tension to be build. It makes the unbelievable a little more believable and the audience gets to enjoy it more.
The other smart thing here is that the late 70's timeframe allows adults to be nostalgic (the Sherrif asks a teen what a "walkman" is; those portable cassett players with earphones that were the precursor to our mobile devices and earbuds). But the relationships between young friends and their family members will also open the film up to a younger demographic. So, this is a movie that a variety of ages can enjoy. In some cases the family that buys tickets will find that Mom n' Pops will enjoy it as much,or more, than junior and sis.
The final hook that will leave you smiling is the "film within a film" that the kids are shooting over their summer holidays....stick around for the credits to see how the mini-movie turns out.
Rating 4 out of 5
3 good things about this movie:
-The relationships; it takes the tale beyond the jumps and bumps on the screen
-It's scary fun, like summer blockbusters should be
-The young stars deliver quite well, and the group dynamic gives it the feel of other movies that endure such as "Stand By Me", and "The Goonies"
3 bad things about this movie:
-A little long in the tooth...could've been 15 minutes shorter
-Could've used more scenes of what/who escapes from the train; I enjoy when we are left to use our imaginations but I was left wanting more
-Felt a tiny bit like miniature version of Abram's other film "Cloverfield"; you'll have to see both to see if you agree