I went in to Super 8 not really knowing what I was getting myself into. To be honest, the film, the plot of which I had very little knowledge of, sparked only slight interest in me. I sat down with my Popcorn and Coke, sort of expecting some bland dialogue in the way of Lost or something incredibly sci-fi in the way of Star Trek. Super 8 was neither.
J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg bring to the silver screen a story about a group of kids who, well, are attempting to bring their own film to the not-quite-silver screen. In doing so, the kids witness a massive train wreck brought on by their honors biology teacher. From the train, an alien is released into the town. As a result, the area is taken over and driven by the Air Force, who want to reclaim the creature (as it was originally under their lock). I won't go any more in depth than that or list the individual actors like I often do, but it's basically sci-fi wrapped in a cleverly disguised ball of drama and slice-of-life. The latter is basically about the strained relationship between the main character Joe and his father after the death of Joe's mother, and the relationship they have with Alice Dainard and her dad. ...And thus I lied.
About half the cast of kids (there are 6 if memory serves) is new to the acting business, and, well, it shows. Even from the experienced actors and actress (notably Elle Fanning, who plays Alice [I lied even more]) the acting is subpar. However, it actually lends to the film. It's a rare case where the mediocre acting (it could have been a lot worse) actually makes the movie more realistic and believable. I didn't feel like they were rehearsed (they didn't have any powerful, memorable lines), but that they were just speaking what came to mind, as humans often do. It almost makes me wonder if it wasn't intentional.
As most people who gave the film negative reviews say, the ending was disappointing. The climax was weak. However, the rest of the movie made up for it, certainly. It really is only bothersome if you hate abrupt endings or feel the need to question the reality of certain events, the latter of which would actually be bothersome throughout the entire film (IE how the spacecraft transforms and why the creature didn't just stay in it's lair, although this last bit is partially explained). Urg, I'm spoiling it again. Well, sorta.
Final thoughts are upcoming. You could tell when something was about to jump out at you most of the time - the music and background noises disappeared, one character was alone, it was dark, etc. It wasn't surprising when something did jump out. However, there is one certain instance in the movie that did make me jump, and it is probably one of the most surprising (in the way of making a person jump) scenes I have seen in movies. It's horror wasn't great, but it's energy was definitely there. The film, though, is more about the interactions between the different characters than the actual alien threat, so that's one reason the genre is ambiguous (like the aforementioned "horror" scenes).
Maybe it's because my hobby is making films and videos, but I loved this movie. Yes, I actually am probably biased on this one (just as I was on Cars 2 when I could not bring myself to give a Pixar film a flat 2 rating). As a great masterpiece, Super 8 does not rank at all. It is by no means a great feat. However, it is a fantastic piece of entertainment, especially the end credits. Just for it's entertainment value, I have to give this film a 5/5, the first 5 I have given on this site. If you are looking for the next Academy Award winner, though, look elsewhere, as this film more than likely won't be seen as such. It's honestly too bad that this film is actually forgettable (just in the fact that it WASN'T a masterpiece), as I would love to watch it again forty years from now.
Rating: 5/5 (unless you are looking for a movie marvel, in which case it earns a 2-3/5, but that's your call, not mine)
Connor's Quick Rating: 4/5