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Super 8 10th Anniversary Blu-ray Review - Still Magical!

Kids and Teens still make movies. Only the tech is different.

Reviewed by on May 24, 2021
Rating: 5 Star Rating

Kidzworld reviews the 10th anniversary 4K Ultra HD version of the classic kids make a movie adventure Super 8. Extras are all interesting and fun and the film is still relatable and relevant today.

In Super 8, it’s 1979 in a small Ohio steel town and a group of young teens are making a zombie movie with a Super 8 camera (It’s like the android phone and post it on YouTube equivalent favored by today’s teen filmmakers). 14-year-old Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney of today’s Kissing Booth movies) mourns his mom who was killed in an accident at the steel mill. He and pals Martin (Gabriel Basso), Preston (Zach Mills), Cary (Ryan Lee) and only girl Alice (Elle Fanning) are involved in making their movie with pal Charles (Riley Griffiths) who wants to enter it in a film festival. When the gang witnesses a big train wreck while filming, they vaguely see a huge alien creature escaping from the train. Since the wreck is on their film, the teens are in danger from the U.S. Military who must keep the alien’s visit and escape a secret.

The young filmmakers know that the military is after the alien creatureThe young filmmakers know that the military is after the alien creatureCourtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment

Accident and the Film

In 1979, Deputy Sheriff Jack Lamb (Kyle Chandler) of Lillian, Ohio and his 14-year-old son Joe, mourn wife and mom Elizabeth (“Outlander’s” Catriona Balfe) killed in a workplace accident. Jack blames Louis Dainard (Ron Eldard) since Elizabeth was covering his shift when he was too drunk to work.  A few months later Joe's friend Charles gathers the gang to make his Super 8 zombie movie. Alice, Dainard’s daughter and Joe are attracted to each other although their dads would never agree to this.

Alice's dad isn't fond of Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney)Alice's dad isn't fond of Joe LambCourtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment

Train Wreck!

At midnight, while filming at a train depot, the kids see a pickup truck ram a train head-on, derailing it. They barely make it out alive and are separated. Joe sees a weird creature escape from a derailed box car and find a bunch of strange while cubes in the wreckage.

Alice (Elle Fanning) and Joe (Joel Courtney) examine the weird white cubeAlice and Joe examine the weird white cubeCourtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment

They find that the driver of the truck was their biology teacher Dr. Woodward (Glenn Turman). He warns them to forget what they’ve seen and they rush home as a convoy from the local Air Force base, led by Col. Nelec (Noah Emmerich) arrives at the destroyed depot. Nelec finds an empty Super 8 film box. Did somebody get this on film?

Colonel Nelec takes the kids into custodyColonel Nelec takes the kids into custodyCourtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment

Strange Events in Town

After the wreck, there are strange events in town. Dogs run away, some townsfolk go missing, power fluctuates and electronic equipment is stolen. Joe’s dad tries to get the truth out of Nelec but he is arrested and Nelec orders a wildfire started as an excuse to evacuate the residents to the base. Joe and Charles watch their derailment footage and see that, indeed, a large creature escaped the train. Nelec confronts the badly injured Woodward in a military hospital for information about the creature, but when Woodward won’t talk, Nelec has him killed. Alice's father tells Joe the creature has abducted her. The teens break into Dr. Woodward's trailer and find documents and a film from his time as a government researcher when an alien crash-landed on Earth many years earlier. The poor creature was experimented on but mind-linked with Woodward who knew it just wanted to go home!

Alice (Elle Fanning) is abducted by the alienAlice is abducted by the alienCourtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment

Find the Alien!

Nelec captures the teens but the alien kills him and his airmen, allowing the kids to escape. Joe’s dad escapes and agrees with Dainard to put their differences aside to save their kids.

Joe's deputy dad Jack Lamb played by Kyle ChandlerJoe's deputy dad played by Kyle ChandlerCourtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment

Joe and Cary find a massive tunnel system under the town. The missing townsfolk, including Alice, are hanging unconscious from the ceiling of a cavern where the alien is creating a device from stolen electronics attached to the base of a water tower. Joe frees Alice and the others. The alien grabs Joe, who quietly speaks to it, saying "bad things happen" but that it "can still live". The alien allows them to return to the surface.

The alien is building a spaceshipThe alien is building a spaceshipCourtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment

Going Home

The townspeople watch as metal objects are pulled to the top of the tower by an unknown force. The shape-shifting, white cubes reassemble as a spaceship. Will the alien be able to make the ship work and go home? 

Is the alien headed for the town's water tower?Is the alien headed for the town's water tower?Courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment

Watch through the credits as the zombie movie the teens were making runs. Charles, on camera, asks for this short film “The Case” to be picked for a local film festival. Alice attacks him as a zombie.

Cast of the zombie movie discuss the filmCast of the zombie movie discuss the filmCourtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment

Special Extra Features

There are tons of cool extras on this 10th anniversary disc. Featurettes include:

  • The Dream Behind Super 8 – The filmmakers all made 8 or Super 8 films as kids! They talk about the joy of living their dreams on this movie. Director J.J. Abrams talks about one of his Super 8 films helping him meet Director/Producer Spielberg. We see snippets of their 8 and Super 8 films.  Super inspiring!
  • The Search for New Faces – J.J. and his casting directors reveal how they called in literally thousands of barely known and unknown young teen actors for the roles in the film. The lead kids talk about getting their parts, meeting each other and bonding on set. Lots of laughs on and off set. J.J. gave the kids their bikes used in the movie. So Cool!
  • Meet Joel Courtney – Joel on set and behind the scenes ten years ago. He talks his small-town past, how his life changed and being locked in a room with Elle Fanning so they could get acquainted. He’d never been alone with a girl before! He goes to hair and make-up and school on set and thinks about his future. Very nice.

Joe (Joel Courtney) sees something get out of the wrecked boxcarJoe (Joel Courtney) sees something get out of the wrecked boxcarCourtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment
  • Rediscovering Steel Town – finding a town for the film that wouldn’t take too much changing to represent the late1970’s. Production design in Weirton, West Virginia and working with the locals who became extras in many scenes is shown. We see why J.J. loved the town and its people.

The town of Weirton, West Virginia is location for the filmThe town of Weirton, West Virginia is location for the filmCourtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment
  • The Visitor Lives – All about the creation and design of the film’s fugitive alien. J.J. pictured one thing, Spielberg another and the creature designer had his own ideas. We see a wide variety of designs created with the order of “make it unique”. The alien design had to reflect what it has to do in the story. Super interesting!
  • Scoring Super 8 – Composer Michael Giacchino, also a super filmmaking nerd as a kid, loves John Williams’ movie scores for Spielberg and was inspired by them using various themes for characters and events. Cool!
  • Do You Believe in Magic? – an off-the-wall, on set record of Director of Photography Larry Fong’s amazing abilities as a magician and how he entertained kids and adults on set alike. Kind of amazing.
  • The 8mm Revolution – All about how a super 8 camera works, how you have to get the film developed then edited together.. Only 3 minutes to a reel. The kid actors had to learn to use the camera which produced grainy footage that can be cleaned up digitally today. It was a lot harder then!
  • An interactive extra called Deconstructing the Train Crash lets you choose to explore tidbits on Pre-Production, Production or Post-Production. Short but interesting.
  • Deleted Scenes – 14 of them are all very short but some add to character development. All worth a watch.
  • Commentary by Director J.J. Abrams, Producer Bryan Burk and D.P. Larry Fong is packed with tid-bits on where scenes were done, how shot etc. The guys were all a bit freaked to see the teen actors dressed as they were at that age. Very thorough and friendly.

Wrapping Up

If you haven’t seen this 10-year-old movie, you really must get this 4K HD disc! It also contains a digital version to run on any of your devices. Every kid or teen who ever wanted to write, act in, direct or produce their own film can totally identify with the young teens and their story. The many on set and behind-the-scenes extras with this 10th anniversary home entertainment set are well worth the buy. The young teens’ enthusiasm and budding friendships make their experience so real and J.J Abrams and filmmakers living their childhood movie-making dreams is inspiring. 

The tale of a tortured alien who just wants to go home was the theme in E.T. but this isn’t a rip-off. It’s a totally different take on the young humans involved in helping him out….while surviving their own personal problems and determination to finish their zombie film.  

This one will make points with the whole family. The movie is very Spielberg-esque and a total classic with many of the young cast going on to grow up still acting. Makes you want to go out with your camera or phone and make your own fun film. Technically, it’s much easier and faster for kids and teens today, yes, but the joy of creation with buddies will always be there. Super 8 looks and sounds great on this 4K HD presentation. We award a full five stars.

Super 8 Blu-ray Rating: 5

Super 8 10th Anniversary 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review - Still Magical! Courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment

Take Super 8 home starting May 25th everywhere.