Best Movies of All Time + [Zach Mills]

SUPER 8

SUPER 8-13

Super 8 is a 2011 sci-fi thriller directed by J.J. Abrams that takes place in and around a small town in Ohio. After the accidental death of his mother, Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) finds solace in helping his friend Charles (Riley Griffiths) craft and create his low-budget movie about a zombie takeover. One night, the two boys and a group of their friends talk a girl named Alice (Elle Fanning) into starring in their film. She takes her dad's car and drives the group out to a train station in the middle of the night because Charles knows a train will be passing through and wants to get it in the shot. When the train passes by, however, a truck swerves onto the tracks and crashes head-on, sending the train derailing, all with the boys' camera still rolling. The group agrees to keep their knowledge of the situation a secret, but it becomes more and more difficult when the military shows up and strange occurrences start to happen all around the county. Joe's father Jackson (Kyle Chandler) is the town's deputy sheriff and struggles with finding any answers for the terrified townsfolk as he constantly pesters Colonel Nelec (Noah Emmerich). Meanwhile, the boys have their film developed and learn of a secret that the military doesn't want anyone to uncover...

When I first saw the teaser trailers for Super 8, I wasn't quite sure what kind of film we'd be getting. It managed to grab my interest, but it didn't have the feel of a "must-see" movie at the time. As more in-depth trailers were released, however, I started to get the sense that there might be something magical and wondrous about this particular film. With J.J. Abrams helming the film and Steven Spielberg helping produce, we had a tandem that could create something truly marvelous. I'm happy to report that the Abrams-Spielberg team has done just that.

A lot of the credit has to be given to Abrams for crafting this original screenplay. Most films go either one of two ways with their screenplay: they're either plot-driven or character-driven. With Super 8, however, we get the perfect blend of the two. There's enough of a plot to drive the storyline along, but the real meat of the film lies in the character development we see from start to finish. When you've got a story like the one we get, you'd be hard-pressed to find an individual who doesn't change at all, and that needed to be conveyed within the film. Every single principal character changes from the beginning of the film to the moment the credits start to roll, and it's done so convincingly that it borders on the lines of perfect. I tip my hat to Mr. Abrams, who only continues to wow me. His attention to detail and stellar direction makes him one of the better directors of today's day and age. Super 8 officially makes me a fan of his work, as he has continued to improve his films, from 2008's Cloverfield to 2009's Star Trek. Super 8 is his best feature film venture to date, and I can only hope he continues his upward climb.

As I often say, a screenplay only denotes half of a film's success. You can have a brilliant screenplay, but if your actors don't deliver, it's going to seem like mush (the opposite can also be said, by the way - a terrible screenplay can be enhanced by brilliant acting). Everyone is firing on all cylinders here, and that's especially intriguing considering our main cast are all adolescents. Joel Courtney does a fine job as our main lead, bringing a youthful innocence to the role that gradually transforms into a headstrong and highly-intelligent young man. His character arc is the strongest in the film, and he adapts quite well as the process goes along. I know I've given rave reviews about Elle Fanning in the past - she holds the number two spot on my list of favorite roles portrayed by young actors - and she shows signs of brilliance once again here. At her worst, she's fantastic, but she delves into the "amazing" for a few scenes throughout. Now, I could go on for hours about how good the supporting cast is. Much could be said about the adult actors, but the real credit needs to be given to the younger actors. In a way, this is their film because we're seeing it mostly through their eyes. Sure, we get glimpses at the adults' point of view, but the best parts of the film occur through the childrens' eyes. So I applaud the film's younger actors, who include the aforementioned Griffiths, Ryan Lee, Zach Mills and Gabriel Basso.

I'd also like to take a moment and applaud the musical score composed by Michael Giacchino. The music fits seamlessly into the film and enhances everything about it. There's a very magical feel to the score, and it truly adds a significant punch to an already stellar film.

Overall, I can't begin to say just how good Super 8 proved to be. It hearkens back to the types of sci-fi films Spielberg has brought to the screen, like 1977's Close Encounters of the Third Kind or 1982's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. This film definitely ranks up there with those classics, and in some ways, it might even outdo them. Is this film a must-see? I'd say yes. Super 8 is some kind of wonderful.

Movie Review Summary:Score: 9.1
Grade: A
2 Thumbs Up

Addition to Rankings
Greatest All-Time - #99
Best Sci-fi - #12