Director: J.J. Abrams
Stars: Elle Fanning, Amanda Michalka, Kyle Chandler
Is it possible to be fake and sincere at the same time?
J. J. Abram’s Super 8 pays homage to the popcorn pics Steven Spielberg (who gets a producer credit here) cranked out a few decades back.
It’s also a grab bag of pop cult references (think Lost, Twilight Zone, Aliens, The Goonies, Gremlins).
Super 8 is set in 1979 in fictional Lillian, Ohio, where a group of kids making a home movie witness a spectacular — and suspicious —- train crash. A mysterious “whatsit” aboard the train escapes, and U.S. Air Force goons set about brutally finding it.
Abrams’ casting is impeccable. Joel Courtney and Elle Fanning make cute as Joe and Alice, young huggers brought together by danger, MIA moms and duelling dads. Riley Griffiths plays an amusing Charles, the junior filmmaker of the title. And Kyle Chandler evokes a younger, leaner Alec Baldwin in his role of the deputy sheriff.
Abrams has learned well from the master, Spielberg. But in the end, its calculating manner, with every element weighed for maximum nostalgia value and ironic hipster cred, leave the film feeling artificial.