This article is about the 2011 movie. For the home movie film format, see Super 8 mm film.
Super 8 is a 2011 American science fiction film written and directed by J. J. Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg. The film stars Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning, and Kyle Chandler and was released on June 10, 2011 in conventional and IMAX theaters. The film tells the story of a group of children who are filming their own Super 8 movie when a train derails, releasing a dangerous presence into their town. The movie was filmed in Weirton, West Virginia and surrounding areas.
In 1979, Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney), a 13-year-old boy living in the fictional town of Lillian, Ohio, has lost his mother in a factory accident. Louis Dainard (Ron Eldard) comes to the wake, but Joe's father, Deputy Jackson Lamb (Kyle Chandler), takes Dainard away in handcuffs. It is later revealed that Jackson blames Louis for his wife's death because he was absent during his shift and she had to fill in for him.
Four months later, Joe's friend Charles Kaznyk (Riley Griffiths) hires Dainard's daughter Alice (Elle Fanning) to be the protagonist's wife in his low budget zombie movie on Super 8 film. Alice steals her father's car and takes Joe, Charles, Preston (Zach Mills), Martin (Gabriel Basso), and Cary (Ryan Lee) to an old train depot where the group plans to film a scene. During the shoot, Joe watches a pick-up truck drive onto the tracks and place itself in the path of an oncoming train, causing a massive derailment. In the aftermath of the accident, the kids find the wreck littered with strange white cubes and they approach the truck and discover Dr. Woodward (Glynn Turman), their biology teacher, behind the wheel of the truck. He instructs them to never talk about what they saw; otherwise they and their parents will be killed. Moments afterwards, the U.S. Air Force, led by Colonel Nelec (Noah Emmerich), arrives to secure the crash site while the kids flee the scene.
Over the next couple of days, strange phenomena occur: numerous town dogs run away; kitchen appliances, car engines, and power lines vanish, and people begin to disappear. The Air Force deliberately starts a wildfire outside of town, giving them a pretext to evacuate the entire town to a nearby base. Upon arriving at the base, Joe finds Louis Dainard, who tells him that a creature abducted Alice. Joe, Charles, Cary, and Martin sneak back into town and head to their school, where they break into Woodward's stash of confiscated items, thinking he may have hidden documentation about the creature that might help them save Alice. In the papers, film, and audio recordings they find, they discover that the government imprisoned an extraterrestrial (played by Bruce Greenwood in motion capture sequences) who crashed on Earth in 1958. The alien only wished to rebuild its ship using the shapeshifting white cubes and return home, but was instead imprisoned and tortured by the Air Force, who sought to seize its technology. One film shows Woodward, a researcher at the time, being attacked by the alien. This physical contact caused him to form a telepathic bond with the alien, through which he learned that it only wanted to go home. Woodward derailed the train to free it from captivity.
Colonel Nelec and his men storm the school and capture the boys. They place the children on a security bus and head back to the Air Force base, but the alien attacks the bus on the way. Nelec and his men are killed, while Joe and his friends escape. The kids head through the town, which is now under heavy fire from malfunctioning military equipment as the military attempts to battle the alien. They find the alien's subterranean lair near the cemetery where Joe's mother is buried, along with several missing people who have been trapped there by the alien, which has apparently kept them for food. The town's missing electronics are there too, formed together to create a machine underneath the base of the water tower. Joe manages to rescue Alice, but as they escape the alien grabs Joe, who tells the creature that it can still live on even after painful events. The alien understands Joe's meaning through their tactile telepathic connection and lets go of him, allowing him and his friends to escape.
Shortly after, all the cubes (which break free from Air Force transport trucks) as well as loose metal from around the town are attracted to the town's water tower. The cubes begin to align and a ship begins to take form around the water tower, which the alien then enters. Joe's metal locket, which contains a picture of him as a baby with his mother, is also drawn towards the tower and, after a moment, he decides to let it go. The locket seems to complete the ship, and everyone watches as the ship takes off toward space.
During the end credits, the full movie that Charles and his friends were working on, titled The Case, is shown, with an epilogue in which Charles asks the film festival judges to select his movie.
- Joel Courtneyas Joseph "Joe" Lamb
- Elle Fanningas Alice Dainard
- Kyle Chandleras Jackson "Jack" Lamb
- Ron Eldardas Louis Dainard
- Noah Emmerichas Colonel Nelec
- Bruce Greenwood as "Cooper"
- David Gallagheras Donny
- Riley Griffithsas Charles Kaznyk
- Michael Hitchcockas Deputy Rosko
- Ryan Leeas Cary
- Gabriel Bassoas Martin
- Caitriona Balfe as Elizabeth Lamb
- Amanda Michalkaas Jennifer "Jen" Kaznyk
- Zach Millsas Preston
- Remy Thorneas Jorge Brooks
- Glynn Turmanas Dr. Thomas Woodward
- Dan Castellaneta as Izzy
Abrams and Spielberg collaborated in a storytelling committee to come up with the story for the film. The film was initially reported to be either a sequel or prequel to the 2008 film Cloverfield, but this was quickly denied by Abrams. Primary photography began in fall 2010. The teaser itself was filmed separately in April.Super 8 is the first original J. J. Abrams film project, produced by Amblin Entertainment, Bad Robot Productions, and Paramount Pictures. Filming took place in Weirton, West Virginia, from September to October 2010.
Super 8 received generally positive reviews from professional critics. On movie review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a score of 80%, based on 215 reviews, and a rating average of 7.4/10, with the consensus that: 'it may evoke memories of classic summer blockbusters a little too eagerly for some, but Super 8 has thrills, visual dazzle, and emotional depth to spare.'Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score from 1–100 to reviews from critics, assigned the film a Metascore of 72 based on 40 critics, signifying 'generally favorable reviews.'
Chris Sosa of Gather gave the film an A rating, calling it, "a gripping and exciting tale of finding one's place in the world amidst tragedy." His review concluded, "While the genre-bending occasionally unsettles, the film's genuine and emotionally gripping nature make its journey believable." 
Roger Ebert gave the film 3 and a half stars out of 4 and said, "Super 8 is a wonderful film, nostalgia not for a time but for a style of filmmaking, when shell-shocked young audiences were told a story and not pounded over the head with aggressive action. Abrams treats early adolescence with tenderness and affection."Richard Corliss of Time gave it a similarly positive review, calling it "the year's most thrilling, feeling mainstream movie".
Jamie Graham of Total Film gave the film a perfect five-star rating, saying, "like Spielberg, Abrams has an eye for awe, his deft orchestration of indelible images – a tank trundling through a children's playground, a plot-pivotal landmark framed in the distance through a small hole in a bedroom wall – marking him as a born storyteller".
Most of the film's negative reviews commented negatively on the film's ending, and its frequent homages to the early films of Steven Spielberg. Writing for Mubi's Notebook, Fernando F. Croce alleged that "no film this year opens more promisingly and ends more dismally than J.J. Abrams' Super 8." CNN's Tom Charity felt that "Abrams' imitation [was] a shade too reverent for [his] taste." David Edelstein, of New York magazine, called it a "flagrant crib," adding that "Abrams has probably been fighting not to reproduce Spielberg's signature moves since the day he picked up a camera. Now, with the blessing of the master, he can plagiarize with alacrity."
Super 8 was commercially released on June 10, 2011. In the United States and Canada, it opened in 3,379 theaters and grossed over $35.4 million on its opening weekend, ranking first at the box office. As of July 10, 2011 (2011 -07-10)[update], the film grossed $118,069,546 in North America and $51,000,000 worldwide, bringing its worldwide total to $169,069,546, more than triple its production cost. The movie cost $50 million to produce.
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- ^ "A Shot by Shot Description of the SUPER 8 Teaser Trailer; Steven Spielberg Is Producing, J.J. Abrams Is Directing". Collider.com. 2010-05-04. http://www.collider.com/2010/05/06/a-shot-by-shot-description-super-8-teaser-trailer-steven-spielberg-producing-j-j-abrams-directing.
- ^ "We've Got Details on J.J. Abrams's Secret Movie Trailer for Super 8". New York. 2010-05-04. http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2010/05/vulture_exclusive_details_of_j.html.
- ^ "J.J. Abrams's Cloverfield-esque Super 8 Has 'Absolutely Nothing to Do With Cloverfield'". New York. 2010-05-05. http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2010/05/jj_abrams_super_8_has_absolute.html.
- ^ Fernandez, Borys; Kit (2010-05-07). "Details surface on spooky Abrams-Spielberg project". Film Journal International. http://www.filmjournal.com/filmjournal/content_display/news-and-features/news/cinemas/e3ieedb56d6b7d3149539a8f7d8e9e996b3.
- ^ "More 'Super 8' Viral Goodness Comes Via Snail Mail". Bloody Disgusting. 2010-07-16. http://www.bloody-disgusting.com/news/20930.
- ^ "Super 8 Shooting Schedule for Weirton". Super 8 News. 2010-09-23. http://www.super8news.com/2010/09/23/super-8-shooting-schedule-for-weirton/. Retrieved 2011-06-06.
- ^ "Super 8 (2011)". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/super_8/. Retrieved 2011-06-05.