Entertainment Entertainment Movies

'Super 8' review: Great to see you again, childhood

**** (out of four)

The plot's been kept under major wraps, and you’ll be glad I left the cat in the bag. Know this: In summer 1979, 14-year-old Joe (Joel Courtney) and his friends witness a violent train crash that, hint-hint, may have sci-fi connections. Having recently lost his wife in a steel mill accident, Joel's deputy-sheriff father (Kyle Chandler of "Friday Night Lights") has little time for his son when he must protect the 12,000 townspeople of Lillian, Ohio—a reminder to Michael Bay that not only major cities receive attention from gigantic, non-human beings.

The buzz: What? A non-3D summer blockbuster that's neither a sequel nor a superhero movie? If you're looking for a predecessor to the perfectly cast "Super 8," know that writer-director J.J. Abrams spends virtually the entire movie saluting the film's executive producer Steven Spielberg through nods to "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "E.T.," "Jaws," "Jurassic Park" and more.

The verdict: Think Abrams should do his own thing? Stop ignoring your inner teenage movie fan. "Super 8" spectacularly bottles the Spielbergian magic—actually, that feels like an understatement; the movie is a full-pound Spielberger. It also delivers an adventure so emotionally rewarding that it’s a gift where both the gift itself and the thought behind it really count. Delight in memories of coming-of-age stories such as "Stand By Me." "Super 8" captures the adolescent thrill of secret midnight meetings and heartbreakingly natural moments such as discovering a parent in tears or being transfixed by a girl (Elle Fanning) for the first time. If the film’s idealism in the face of the world’s worst moments is pure Spielberg, the explosive action is all Abrams. He flexes his muscles and proves that he’s a director standing on his own legs, not his idol's. "Super 8" is about kids who love movies directed by a guy who loves movies, and its pure, silly, grin-inducing awesomeness can only help you remember why you love ’em, too. That's called inspired filmmaking, not "How many 'Kung Fu Panda' movies can we make before people stop wanting to buy the toys?"

Did you know? Dialogue doesn't get more beautifully innocent than this statement of fear from Joe's friend, Preston (Zach Mills of "Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium"): "I think I'm having a heart attack. And I have a scrape." Perfect.

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Fridays at 7 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Worst new movies

    Worst new movies

    The recent awfulness we've seen, like 'Terminator Genisys,' 'Entourage,' 'Aloft,' 'Aloha,' 'Pitch Perfect 2,' 'Hot Pursuit,' 'The D Train,' 'The Squeeze,' 'The Longest Ride,' 'Get Hard,' 'Serena,' 'Cinderella,' 'Run All Night,' 'The Lazarus Effect,' 'Hot Tub Time Machine 2,' 'Fifty Shades of Grey,'...

  • Shrug-worthy new movies

    Shrug-worthy new movies

    'Ted 2,' 'Infinitely Polar Bear,' 'Eden,' 'Inside Out,' 'Dope,' 'The Wolfpack,' 'Heaven Knows What,' 'Jurassic World,' 'Testament of Youth,' 'Live From New York,' 'San Andreas,' 'Tomorrowland,' 'Lambert & Stamp,' 'Avengers: Age of Ultron,' 'Adult Beginners,' 'True Story,' 'Ex Machina,' 'Desert...

  • Best new movies

    Best new movies

    Reviews of recent favorites like 'Magic Mike XXL,' 'The Overnight,' 'Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,' 'Results,' 'Love & Mercy,' 'Spy,' 'Mad Max: Fury Road,' 'Welcome to Me,' 'Clouds of Sils Maria,' 'While We're Young,' 'Woman in Gold,' 'Insurgent,' 'It Follows,' 'The Hunting Ground,' 'Focus,'...

  • Hot Hollywood interviews

    Hot Hollywood interviews

    The most memorable quotes from our latest movie Q&As, including Jada Pinkett Smith, Adam Scott, Thomas Mann/Olivia Cooke/RJ Cyler, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, Paul Feig, John Cusack/Brian Wilson, Ethan Hawke, Aubrey Peeples, Nick Kroll, Michiel Huisman, Freida Pinto, Dan Savage, Joel McHale, Noah Baumbach,...

  • Good movies to rent now

    Good movies to rent now

    See what recent DVD releases are worth your time and money. Don't rent? Check out the newest movies to stream here.Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page. 

  • On film as in life, addiction is not easily shaken

    On film as in life, addiction is not easily shaken

    It’s the night of the 2008 Grammys, and suddenly massive star Amy Winehouse has been nominated for Record of the Year alongside established icons Beyonce, Foo Fighters, Rihanna, Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake. Winehouse, a recovering drug addict who has been denied a U.S. visa and thus is unable to...

  • Fan-made trailer for 'A Series of Unfortunate Events' Netflix adaptation

    Fan-made trailer for 'A Series of Unfortunate Events' Netflix adaptation

    A fan made a teaser trailer for the upcoming Netflix series based on Daniel Handler's (pen name Lemony Snicket) cult classic book franchise has hit the Internet. "A Series of Unforunate Events" will be the latest production under Netflix's "Original Series"...

  • Photos: Running of the Bulls Festival

    Photos: Running of the Bulls Festival

    Thousands of revelers doused each other with wine Monday to celebrate the start of the famed San Fermin running of the bulls festival in Pamplona, Spain.

Comments
Loading