Brought to you by OBS staff member Annabell Cadiz
The movie opens in 1979 in the fictional town of Lillian, Ohio. Joe Lamb is a preteen who’s mother has just passed away from an accident at work. Joe finds comfort in his best friend Charles and immerses himself in a movie making project that Charles has put together for a contest. The movie project is a horror film centered around zombies being filmed on a super 8 camera. Charles has inlisted the help of the rest of his and Joe’s friends, Cary (Ryan Lee), Preston (Zach Mills), and Martin (Gabriel Basso) to help as well. The boys are surprised when Charles gets Alice Dainard, a girl the boys believe to be a goddess, to agree to play the wife of the hero in the movie. On the night of the big shot, Alice sneaks away with her father’s car and picks up the boys. They head to the train station to begin filming. In the middle of filming Joe yells out for everyone to watch out just as a white truck crashes right into the oncoming train and the train explodes, creating a major destruction zone. That same night the small town of Lillian is swamped with military men who refuse to explain why they have arrived to the small town. Joe’s father, Jackson Lamb (Kyle Chandler) who is the deputy sheriff finds himself dealing with strange occurrences taking place. The disappearance of the Sheriff, whole parts of town losing power, dogs disappearing from the town to only be found in different cities whole states away. Soon Joe and his crew of misfits are on the search of what really came out of the train and how to save their small town.
Two of the great minds in Hollywood, Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams, team up together to create a movie deep in suspense and heart.
Even though most of the actors in the movie are unknown, possibly except for Elle Fanning (sister of Dakota Fanning), they still managed to do a wonderful job portraying their characters. They are funny and innocent in many ways. But they have also had to mature through tragedy. Joe and Alice find comfort in each other because their past is connected. They have both lost their mothers and both have to deal with estranged relationships with their fathers. Elle Fanning did a marvelous job. She is so graced and posed but at the same time defiant. Joel Courtney as Joe is heart warming. He believes in the power of friendship and love. He brave and determined and smart. I really loved his character. Riley Griffiths plays Charles and is so nerdy and so OCD when it comes to directing. He has a great imagination. Always wanting everything done precisely and always changing lines even during filming. I wondered often if that was how Spielberg or Abrams felt growing up as they discovered their love for movies.
The rest of the cast of boys were also great. Ryan Lee as Cary, obsessed with fire and blowing things up. He cracked me up! Zach Mills as Preston and Gabriel Basso as Martin added wonderful humor to the story. Kyle Chandler as Jackson Lamb, Joe’s father, was very believable in the pain he still felt for losing his wife and the tough time he has understanding how to raise his son.
What I loved about the movie was that it was really told from the child characters. Even with a few adults playing roles in the movie, the story was mainly told through the innocence and wisdom of children. They know it may be impossible to save their town but they still feel like they have to try, they have to make a stand. The movie also had heart to it. There were many emotional moments but one that struck really powerfully was a scene between Alice (Elle Fanning) and Joe (Joel Courtney). They are sitting in his room. The power has gone off again in the town and they are just talking about Charles’s zombie film. All of a sudden the power comes back and the home movie of Joe’s mother had been watching comes on. It is such a beautiful scene shared between the two and shows just how mature these two kids are.
The CGI effects as would be expected for a Spielberg film were great. The train collision was awesome!
I (along with my nephew and my brother) loved this movie! It was beautifully crafted and flings us back to childhood where we sought adventure and believed anything was possible.
Two thumbs up to Spielberg and Abrams!
Running Time: 112 minutes
Director: J.J. Abrams