Super 8

  • Review Date: June 10, 2011
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 112 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Teens save town in action-heavy sci-fi film with retro feel.
  • Review Date: June 10, 2011
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 112 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie's overall message is that communication is essential in understanding others and can help avoid violence and promote understanding. Also, that isolation, loneliness, and cruelty only breed anger, bitterness, and revenge.

Positive role models

Joe is a fantastic kid. Yes, he sneaks out of his house to help his friend make a movie, but he's also kind, generous, loving, and brave. He risks his life to help Alice when no one else will and treats her with reverence and respect rather than an objectified prize he should earn. Deputy Lamb is willing to investigate the Air Force's shady doings even when the naive sheriff tells him it's nothing to worry about. Even though Lamb isn't the most understanding father at first, he later shows just how much he loves and is willing to sacrifice for Joe. All of Joe's friends are great boys who stand by each other even during horrific, life-threatening situations.

Violence

From the huge, terrifying train crash that starts the action to the heart-stopping climax when lives we care about are at stake, there's a lot of action that's likely to scare younger viewer (a couple of scenes may literally leave viewers jumping out of their seats or gasping aloud). The alien is unseen for most of the movie, but he wreaks havoc by making scary things happen. A man bloodied in an accident pulls a gun on teenagers to get them to flee; several characters are grabbed by the alien. The Air Force is led by a sadistic colonel who thinks nothing of ordering a scientist killed by a poisonous injection or sending his people out on near-suicide missions. The troops start a fire to force a town to evacuate. The alien squashes people, but there aren't any lingering shots of blood or guts (the way there would be in an R-rated movie). A mother's death via a horrible steel mill accident is talked about throughout the movie.

Sex

Joe and Alice flirt with each other, exchanging furtive glances and then having heart-to-heart talks. They eventually share a couple of embraces, and it's clear they "like each other."

Language

One humorously depicted use of the word "f--k" (said by an older teen), as well as several uses of "s--t," "bulls--t," "a--hole," and "bitch" by the middle-school protagonists. Other words include "p---y," "d--k," "hell," "ass," "damn," "dumbass," "idiot," "stupid," "oh my God," and a few exclamations of "Jesus!" and "God!"

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Deputy Lamb and his fellow officers drink beer after their shifts. The camera shop salesman asks Charles and his middle-school friends if they want to buy pot; he's later shown smoking a joint and admits that he's high. The kids react to his inability to drive during a crisis by saying "Drugs are so bad." Mr. Dainard is usually shown drunk, drinking, or smoking cigarettes.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this exciting, 1979-set sci-fi drama -- which follows a group of young teens who witness a horrific train accident while making a homemade movie and get caught up in a military cover-up involving a mysterious and dangerous beast -- has some intense action violence, especially the truly terrifying train wreck. There's some blood and weapons use, and some scenes may make you jump out of your seat, but gore is minimal. Also expect some drinking/drug content (including someone trying to sell the kids pot) and swearing (including one use of "f--k," as well as "s--t," "a--hole," and more). Director J.J. Abrams manages to perfectly capture the feeling of similar movies from the period, largely by drawing shamelessly from the works of producer Steven Spielberg.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Summer 1979, Lillian, Ohio: Six teens are making a zombie movie that they hope to submit to a festival. For Joe (Joel Courtney), it's a chance to bury himself in a project that might help him move on from his mother's recent death ... and avoid the tense existence he shares with his father, the town's deputy sheriff (Kyle Chandler). Alice (Elle Fanning), a relative newcomer to the troupe, wants a respite from the home she shares with her tortured, alcoholic father (Ron Eldard). Wannabe auteur Charles (Riley Griffiths) longs to see a finished product, and so do their three other friends. But while filming a pivotal scene, the teens witness a mysterious train crash of monumental proportions, one that unleashes a military crackdown on their once-tranquil town, as well as a newcomer of extraterrestrial proportions.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Let's forget any attempts at originality, why don’t we? Because SUPER 8 won’t stun with innovation. It definitely feels like an homage to great movies past, particularly E.T., Stand by Me, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. (Producer Steven Spielberg’s guiding hand is definitely felt.) And the bare bones of the plot are certainly familiar, as is much of the dialogue.

Yet, Super 8 is entertaining -- despite some overly obvious grabs for viewers' heartstrings -- because the personal stories that root the action-heavy film matter to the audience. We feel for Courtney’s aching Joe and Fanning’s compassionate Alice. We even care for the bossy, foul-mouthed fledgling director Griffiths plays because his friendship with Joe feels grounded and true. Abrams captures the tumult of adolescence, especially when buffeted by very grown-up insights ... never mind the intergalactic space monster threatening to tear this nostalgic town to pieces.
 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's messages about communication and peaceful negotiation. How does the movie's violence tie in to this message?

  • For those familiar with Spielberg's movies -- how is this an obvious homage to his films? What elements of Spielberg's movies are evident in the heroes, the story, the cinematography, the music?

  • How would this movie have been different if it was set in the present day? How does Abrams include '70s technology in the storyline?

  • Why are the kids so devoted to making Super 8 movies? What purpose does the activity serve? Do kids these days get to indulge in creative pursuits like these in the same way?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 10, 2011
DVD release date:November 22, 2011
Cast:Elle Fanning, Joel Courtney, Kyle Chandler
Director:J.J. Abrams
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Genre:Science Fiction
Run time:112 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and some drug use

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Written byAnonymous October 5, 2014
AGE
14
QUALITY
 

Super 8 review

========================================================= Sex/Nudity: Charles' sister wears a period halter top that shows a lot of bare midriff. A boy sings a few lyrics from the song "My Sharona," including "You make my motor run" (innuendo). We see Charles' older teen sister in the same or a similar halter top again (more bare midriff), but her mom won't let her go out in that. A store clerk, Donny, asks Charles about his "hot" sister and "not the other one." The song "My Sharona" plays during the end credits, and includes lyrics such as "Never gonna stop, give it up. Such a dirty mind, always get it up. For the touch of the younger kind." 4.5/10. ========================================================= We hear a ruckus inside Jack's house and then see the deputy physically remove Louis from there and put him into the squad car. We see footage from Charles' zombie movie where Martin holds a gun on zombie Cary, that falls to the floor and then he pushes the zombie back against some protruding nails, killing the zombie, with blood coming out of his mouth (all of that is very amateurish and fake-looking). The kids set up a night shoot at a train station for a scene for their film. During that, a train passes by at a high rate of speed, with Joe then noticing a pickup truck racing from the other direction, onto the tracks, and right at the train. They collide, followed by a massive explosion, derailment, more explosions and the complete destruction of the train station. During this, the kids flee, as debris falls all around them, explosions go off all around them, and they're generally in a great deal of harm's way. We see a scene from Charles' movie where Martin's character shoot's Cary's zombie character, with (fake) bloody results. The town's sheriff hears odd noises while filling up his squad car, while a pack of dogs suddenly run by, followed by a large crate suddenly sliding by on the ground. We then see footage from inside the station where, in the background of the shot, we see the sheriff's car being smashed and thrashed about. The clerk then goes out there and slowly looks around, but the sheriff is nowhere to be seen. The clerk then turns around, screams and is grabbed by something big (that we only partially and briefly see). A power man in a bucket truck hears weird sounds while working a power line, and then sees various heavy objects being thrown into the air by unknown means. He then panics and we partially and briefly see something attack the truck. Col. Nelec has his assistant put something lethal into an injured man's IV line, thus causing the latter to convulse and presumably die. We see a bottle of booze by Alice's dad and he angrily tells her why she doesn't be just like her mom and leave. She does, on her bike, while he chases after her in his car. He ends up accidentally crashing that into a parked vehicle, while a huge monster (partially seen) shows up behind Alice and grabs her as she screams. Jack tells a guard that he has to "take a leak" and asks if he's just supposed to "piss" in his cell. This is all a ruse, however, to get the guard to open the door. Jack then hits the guard, grabs his rifle, and uses the butt of that to hit the guard again. To create a diversion, Jack fires a shot into a tanker truck that's filled with explosive material, resulting in a big explosion. The boys break glass in a school door to gain entry and go through Dr. Woodward's papers, looking for clues. In old movie footage, a man is suddenly grabbed by a mostly unseen but huge monster that lifts him high off the ground (but doesn't harm him). The monster suddenly attacks an Air Force bus carrying Col. Nelec, some guards and Joe and his friends (locked in the back), sending it leaning over to one side as it continues down the road. It then jams its hand into the bus, grabs one of Nelec's men (armed with a tranquilizer gun) and violently thrashes him about (with his gun firing and the shot hitting a window separating them from the boys). The attack on the bus continues, with it being turned over on its side, while an arm/leg from the monster smashes down onto another Air Force man trapped in the wreckage. The kids try to get out, with Joe finally breaking a window through which they escape, while the monster is nearby on the other end of the bus. It then goes inside, Nelec blasts it with machine gun fire to no avail, and it smashes him back against a glass window, presumably killing him (with briefly seen bloody results). The boys run through a neighborhood where military personnel are shooting machine guns, shots from tanks and such, resulting in various explosions and lots of peril. During this, an explosion suddenly blasts through a wall in a house where the boys are located, injuring Martin's leg. Joe and Cary enter the monster's self-dug "cave" and slowly make their way through that. They then spot the monster apparently eating one person (not seen in full). Later, the monster suddenly snatches up the sheriff, and then another person. Joe smacks Alice to rouse her from unconsciousness. Due to the strong magnetic power of a device, various bits of property damage occur as metal objects are pulled through storefront glass, etc. while a soldier holds onto his rifle and is lifted into the air but then lets go and falls a way back down to the street. A water tower collapses and crushes things below it, with various military men running or jumping out of the way. During the end credits, we see the kids' amateurish and fake-looking zombie movie and it includes the following: A detective (Martin) struggles with a zombie (Cary) and pushes him back against some nails, killing him (with blood from the mouth). The same detective shoots another zombie (with bloody results), while a zombie attacks a doctor, with the detective having to shoot both (with bloody results). The detective struggles with his zombie wife (Alice) and injects her with an antidote. Thinking that didn't work, he nearly shoots her, but then stops. 7/10. ========================================================= Blood/Gore: We hear a ruckus inside Jack's house and then see the deputy physically remove Louis from there and put him into the squad car. We see footage from Charles' zombie movie where Martin holds a gun on zombie Cary, that falls to the floor and then he pushes the zombie back against some protruding nails, killing the zombie, with blood coming out of his mouth (all of that is very amateurish and fake-looking). The kids set up a night shoot at a train station for a scene for their film. During that, a train passes by at a high rate of speed, with Joe then noticing a pickup truck racing from the other direction, onto the tracks, and right at the train. They collide, followed by a massive explosion, derailment, more explosions and the complete destruction of the train station. During this, the kids flee, as debris falls all around them, explosions go off all around them, and they're generally in a great deal of harm's way. We see a scene from Charles' movie where Martin's character shoot's Cary's zombie character, with (fake) bloody results. The town's sheriff hears odd noises while filling up his squad car, while a pack of dogs suddenly run by, followed by a large crate suddenly sliding by on the ground. We then see footage from inside the station where, in the background of the shot, we see the sheriff's car being smashed and thrashed about. The clerk then goes out there and slowly looks around, but the sheriff is nowhere to be seen. The clerk then turns around, screams and is grabbed by something big (that we only partially and briefly see). A power man in a bucket truck hears weird sounds while working a power line, and then sees various heavy objects being thrown into the air by unknown means. He then panics and we partially and briefly see something attack the truck. Col. Nelec has his assistant put something lethal into an injured man's IV line, thus causing the latter to convulse and presumably die. We see a bottle of booze by Alice's dad and he angrily tells her why she doesn't be just like her mom and leave. She does, on her bike, while he chases after her in his car. He ends up accidentally crashing that into a parked vehicle, while a huge monster (partially seen) shows up behind Alice and grabs her as she screams. Jack tells a guard that he has to "take a leak" and asks if he's just supposed to "piss" in his cell. This is all a ruse, however, to get the guard to open the door. Jack then hits the guard, grabs his rifle, and uses the butt of that to hit the guard again. To create a diversion, Jack fires a shot into a tanker truck that's filled with explosive material, resulting in a big explosion. The boys break glass in a school door to gain entry and go through Dr. Woodward's papers, looking for clues. In old movie footage, a man is suddenly grabbed by a mostly unseen but huge monster that lifts him high off the ground (but doesn't harm him). The monster suddenly attacks an Air Force bus carrying Col. Nelec, some guards and Joe and his friends (locked in the back), sending it leaning over to one side as it continues down the road. It then jams its hand into the bus, grabs one of Nelec's men (armed with a tranquilizer gun) and violently thrashes him about (with his gun firing and the shot hitting a window separating them from the boys). The attack on the bus continues, with it being turned over on its side, while an arm/leg from the monster smashes down onto another Air Force man trapped in the wreckage. The kids try to get out, with Joe finally breaking a window through which they escape, while the monster is nearby on the other end of the bus. It then goes inside, Nelec blasts it with machine gun fire to no avail, and it smashes him back against a glass window, presumably killing him (with briefly seen bloody results). The boys run through a neighborhood where military personnel are shooting machine guns, shots from tanks and such, resulting in various explosions and lots of peril. During this, an explosion suddenly blasts through a wall in a house where the boys are located, injuring Martin's leg. Joe and Cary enter the monster's self-dug "cave" and slowly make their way through that. They then spot the monster apparently eating one person (not seen in full). Later, the monster suddenly snatches up the sheriff, and then another person. Joe smacks Alice to rouse her from unconsciousness. Due to the strong magnetic power of a device, various bits of property damage occur as metal objects are pulled through storefront glass, etc. while a soldier holds onto his rifle and is lifted into the air but then lets go and falls a way back down to the street. A water tower collapses and crushes things below it, with various military men running or jumping out of the way. During the end credits, we see the kids' amateurish and fake-looking zombie movie and it includes the following: A detective (Martin) struggles with a zombie (Cary) and pushes him back against some nails, killing him (with blood from the mouth). The same detective shoots another zombie (with bloody results), while a zombie attacks a doctor, with the detective having to shoot both (with bloody results). The detective struggles with his zombie wife (Alice) and injects her with an antidote. Thinking that didn't work, he nearly shoots her, but then stops. 6/10. ========================================================= Profanity: At least 1 "f" word, 42 "s" words (another is mouthed, while some of the others could be other words that sound similar, said under duress and during noisy scenes), 3 slang terms for female genitals ("p*ssy"), 2 slang terms for male genitals ("d*ck"), 15 hells, 3 asses (2 used with "hole"), 3 damns, 1 S.O.B., 1 bitch, and 14 uses of "Oh my God," 9 of "Jesus," 8 of "God," 3 of "Swear to God" and 2 of "Oh God" as exclamations. 6/10. ========================================================= Smoking: Jack has a beer. A store clerk, Donny, may make a sarcastic comment about "weed" to Charles (the older teen is later seen smoking some -- noted below). We see some beer bottles by Jack and other cops as they meet about what's occurring in the town. We see a bottle of booze by Alice's dad. Joe and Alice watch old home movies of him as a younger boy with his mom. Alice gets teary when she notes that her father was drunk the morning of the accident that took Joe's mom's life, and that she took over Louis' shift. She adds that she knows her dad wishes it had been him instead, and then that she sometimes wishes that as well. A store clerk smokes a joint, latter comments on being "massively stoned" (after driving that way), and one of the boys confirms that the clerk is "stoned." During the end credits, we see the kids' amateurish and fake-looking zombie movie and it includes the detective (Martin) pretending to have a drink. 6/10. ========================================================= Smoking: Alice's dad smokes once, some cops have at least one lit cigarette on a table in front of them, a miscellaneous woman smokes, and the sheriff apparently nearly uses snuff but is interrupted before getting that to his mouth. During the end credits, we see the kids' amateurish and fake-looking zombie movie and it includes Charles looking like a director, holding a pipe. 3/10. ========================================================= Super 8 is a great science-fiction-thriller film and is definitely worth watching. I give it 7/10. =========================================================
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written byTim2814 June 10, 2011
AGE
14
QUALITY
 

Good movie Bad language

Super 8 is a Heavy action flick, but is not all that scary there is some blood but not allot of it. It does however have language that is very inappropriate for anyone to be using such as F__k, S__t, P___y, J____s, D__k, and the like.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much swearing
Kid, 11 years old June 9, 2011
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

Super 8

This was 'Super Gr8'. Abrams kept the storyline too secret, so it has danger in the box office. This is a sci-fi epic, so tons of action violence. There is a disturbing zombie short made by the kids. The characters risk their lives to save each other. Some flirting, a kiss. 1 f***, and multiple uses of other profanity. 7-Eleven (an advertising partner) is seen once. One character says he is 'stoned', and some characters drink beer. This was amazing.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written bytville June 11, 2011
AGE
11
QUALITY
 

Fun Film. But plenty of bad language and a couple violent scenes.

Fun summer film that has good child role models. And the bad adults come around in the end. Great acting and story-line. Good movie making. Cons: Swearing is throughout the film; Holy S--t is used a lot by some of the main child characters. And a couple of too gross and violent scenes (like brief glimpse of a monster eating a severed leg...) My ten-year-old enjoyed it, but I think 11 or 12 is a better minimum age.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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