Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) is 13 years old, and his mother has been killed in a factory accident. Four months after this, at the beginning of summer, Joe and his friends Charles (Riley Griffiths), Preston (Zach Mills), Martin (Gabriel Basso), Carey (Ryan Lee) and Alice (Elle Fanning) sneak out at midnight to film part of Charles’ low-budget zombie movie on Super 8 film.
They witness a truck being driven by their biology teacher, Dr Woodward (Glynn Turman), going on to train tracks, crashing into an oncoming train and causing a derailment. Woodward survives, but warns the children never to speak of what they have seen because they and their parents will be killed. Air force personnel arrive to investigate the accident. In the following days, strange things start happening in the town. People and pets disappear. Electronics and parts of cars also go missing. Meanwhile, the military interrogate Dr Woodward and kill him when he won’t cooperate.
Then Alice is abducted. The town is evacuated, supposedly because of surrounding fires. The military take over the town, and the children break into the school to search for any information that Dr Woodward might have left. They discover that the US government imprisoned, tortured and experimented on an extraterrestrial being that crashed on Earth in 1958. The children now work to find Alice and put things right.
Extraterrestrial life; death of a parent
This movie has some violence. For example:
- Louis (Alice’s father) and Jack (Joe’s father) have a fight. Jack grabs Louis by the wrists and pushes him into a police car.
- A truck rams an oncoming train, sending burning debris into the air around the children. Dr Woodward is hurt in the crash.
- The extraterrestrial being destroys a police car, attacks a bus and turns it over, and grabs people by the head.
- Dr Woodward threatens the children with a gun.
- An air force officer kills Dr Woodward using a lethal injection.
- Jack attacks and hits a guard with a machinegun, then fires at a petrol truck. The truck blows up and sends people flying.
- Military personnel fire weapons at an extraterrestrial being.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie has several scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight. For example:
- There are several crashes and fiery explosions, particularly in the scene where the children are in real danger of being hurt by the exploding derailed train.
- The extraterrestrial being looks scary, particularly when we see it in full view in the final scenes.
- Joe is upset by the death of his mother.
- Dogs run through the service station. They’re barking, frightened and running away.
- Alice runs away from her father, who is drunk and shouts at her to go away.
- Alice is abducted by the extraterrestrial being. Later Joe is attacked by it.
Children in this age group might be disturbed by the violent and distressing scenes described above.
Younger children in this age group might be disturbed by some of the scenes described above.
None of concern
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
This movie has some use of substances. For example:
- Donny offers to sell marijuana to Charlie.
- Donny smokes a joint and gets stoned.
- Alice’s father is an alcoholic, and we see him drunk.
Nudity and sexual activity
None of concern
None of concern
This movie has some coarse language and put-downs.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Super 8 is a teen science fiction thriller with spectacular effects and a sense of mystery. It tackles the themes of friendship, young love and single parenthood. It also looks at how grown-ups don’t always understand children and how everyday people might cope with an extraordinary situation.
The main messages from this movie are about friendships, forgiveness and compassion. The movie also suggests that life doesn’t always turn out the way we expect it to.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include courage and self-sacrifice.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues such as taking drugs, lying and criminal activity – for example, stealing and breaking into property.