Super 8

   Director: J.J. Abrams, Paramount Pictures, Rated M, 112 mins

Star Trek director J.J.Abrams teams up with sci-fi supremo Steven Spielberg to produce a refreshing sci-fi thriller that is shown through the eyes of a bunch of school kids making a zombie movie (using a super 8 camera) with inspiration and notable acknowledgement being given to some of Spielberg’s earlier hits such as The Goonies, E.T.The Extra-Terrestrial and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, not to mention Abrams’ previous production of Cloverfield.
Super 8
   The story takes place in the late ‘70’s and revolves around a group of teens - comprising budding director Charles (Riley Griffiths), his best friend Joe (Joel Courtney) and make-up artist, male lead Martin (Gabriel Basso) including pretty Alice (Elle Fanning), the newcomer playing the female lead - who having just started filming their own Super 8 movie witness a massive train derailment and the release of a dangerous presence into their town.
   As a result, Joe’s father Jackson (Kyle Chandler), the town’s deputy sheriff is called in following the sudden disappearance of the sheriff, as well as the marines led by Colonel Nelec (Noah Emmerich) after it is revealed that the train contained items of military equipment.
   Despite a relatively unknown cast, it is evident that each did a good job in portraying their respective characters, especially Courtney (in his debut role), with another wonderful performance from Fanning (Dakota’s sister) who previously appeared in Somewhere.
   In addition to the humorous scenes, some great special effects and a suspenseful storyline, Abrams takes the audience on an enjoyable roller-coaster ride that pays tribute to some of Spielberg’s memorable movies at the same time as giving him the opportunity to emulate his famous mentor (i.e. Spielberg).
   Abrams also demonstrates the technique of making a movie within a movie by showing the kids’ Super 8 film during the credits.
VIC'S VERDICT:       3 ½ Rubber Stamp

DVD Review

I Am Number 4

   Release Date: 6 July 2011
   Director: D.J. Caruso, Dreamworks Pictures. Rated M, 119 mins

Like the Australian release Tomorrow When the War Began, DJ Caruso’s thrilling sci-fi movie is based on a novel for young adults penned by Pittacus Lore that includes young Australian actors in remarkable roles.
   Passing as a typical high school student John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) plays an alien from the planet Lorien who is Number Four in a group of nine Loriens who are being hunted down by the fearsome looking Mogadorians who have followed them to Earth.
I Am Number 4
   The opening scenes reveal the Loriens possess special powers and can only be eliminated in numerical order.
   John soon discovers that he is next on the list forcing him and his guardian Henri (Timothy Olyphant) to move to the town of Paradise Ohio where he finds himself standing up for Sam (Aussie actor Callan McAuliffe) against the school bully antics of Mark (Jake Abel) besides falling for school sweetheart Sara (Dianna Agron).
   With the day of reckoning approaching, John confronts the Mogadorians with only his two human friends Sam and Sarah at his side-and the sudden but electrifying appearance of Number Six (Aussie actress Teresa Palmer).
   Besides having renown Transformers producer Michael Bay as part of his production team, Caruso has replicated the theme from Tomorrow When the War Began and crafted a new sci-fi storyline that includes a group of young aliens fighting against an alien force.
   The result is a great cast, a stunning range of special effects as well as a terrific storyline that is thoroughly entertaining.
   ‘I Am Number Four’ is being released on 6 July 2011 and it is a real beauty with a fascinating array of bonus features including the Becoming Number 6 featurette.
VIC'S VERDICT:       4 Rubber Stamp

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