I saw Super 8 the other day, and yeah, it’s a pretty apt description of the film. I’d say, “It’s super, thanks for asking, all things considered it couldn’t be better I must say!” OK, now that I have a dumb South Park reference out of the way, on with the review.

*Note* This will contain minor spoilers, but nothing that would impede your enjoyment of the film.

It’s a very good movie, the dialog is extremely well written, and the film within the film is one of the best things I’ve seen on screen in a long time. It’s nice to see a big budget picture that actually spent some of that money on the script, instead of blowing it all on special effects. That’s not to say that Super 8 lacks effects, because it has more than its fair share of explosions, train wrecks, mysterious technology, mayhem, and a CGI alien.

It’s the story of some kids in the late 70s that live in the kind of town that is now abandoned, since whatever the factory is that employs the denizens would have shuttered its doors and shipped all the jobs to the far east in the 80s. They decide to make a movie, and each has their own specialty to add. The main character (Joel Courtney) is like a young Tom Savini, transforming ordinary persons into zombies for a film that has some social commentary. The fat kid (Riley Griffiths) is a budding George Romero, letting social commentary and raw emotion come through cool zombie death scenes. This is where the Spielberg influence is very apparent. He really knows how to convey the sense of what it’s like to be a kid on film.

In the course of making their movie, the kids see a train wreck that they all miraculously survive without a scratch. Not only do they survive, but the car that Dakota Fanning’s sister stole from her dad is seemingly unharmed, despite nearly being buried under 14 tons of rubble. This train wreck takes about 20 minutes of screen time, or at least it feels that way. Just because you can show 97 explosions, doesn’t mean you have to- you really can get the point across with 27.

And that is indicative of the only quibbles I had with Super 8. J.J. Abrams seemed to want to show off too much. Maybe he really wanted to show off what he can do for his idol, but it led to him utilizing an annoying blue lens flare every time the alien showed up. When you’re putting as many special effects into these scenes as they did, it would have been nice to see them without a giant blue line blocking them from your view. They even use the stupid blue line on the billboards promoting the movie. I honestly thought it was a projection error the first few times it showed up, but apparently that’s what J.J. wanted me to see. It’s not a dy-no-mite effect, so I wish he wouldn’t have done that. (Sorry, I’ve been watching a lot of Good Times lately.)

The fat kid’s family is really fun to see, which must be inspired by any of those awful TLC reality shows about persons that have way too many kids living under their roof. I imagine breakfast at the Octomom’s house isn’t all that different from the breakfast seen in this movie, except there’s a father in this one, and he’s going to work, both of which are ideas that are apparently foreign to that tentacled tot-herder. The hot daughter has a decent sub plot involving a stoner that works at the camera shop, and they are both good for some comic relief.

Eventually there is an evacuation, a boring sub plot about why the lead’s father and Dakota Fanning’s sister’s father ends when they settle their differences (which are never really explained) because their two kids are off playing with an alien. I have a few predictions about their future- in Super 9, these two kids will be full on boyfriend and girlfriend, and in Super 10 they’ll be appearing on film in 16 and Pregnant. Then in Super 11, they’ll be on a special Maury, where the lead kid accuses Dakota Fanning’s sister of sleeping with the fat one, and DNA tests are required.

It turns out that the alien is the MacGyver of its planet, taking scrap metal from all around the town and turning it into a spaceship. There are some metal Rubik’s Cube looking things, which are referred to in the film as objects that look like Rubik’s Cubes, which throws the timeline of the movie out of whack a bit. The Rubik’s Cube didn’t make its debut in the West until 1980, and didn’t become a fad until 1981, so it’s unlikely these kids would have known about them if the movie DID take place in the 70s as all other indicators made it seem. I can live with that, but it is a bit tough to believe that the US Military would completely miss seeing a car full of kids escaping a government mandated quarantine area being driven by a stoner, heading back towards the area from which they were recently forced.

The kids all give great performances. My favorite character was a firebug played by Ryan Lee. I saw him on TMZ, and he looks like he’s having a great time with his success, and I hope he does. Then when he, Dakota Fanning’s sister, Joel Courtney, Zach Mills, and Riley Griffiths are sitting in court ordered rehab in 2016, they can all look back and say- hey, at least we were in a good movie, now what time do we have to be at the convention to sign autographs for $20?

Rating this movie on the size of film stock from 8mm to 80mm, it comes in at the IMAX size of 70mm. Not a perfect movie, but a damn good one.