Director: JJ Abrams
Cast: Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning, Riley Griffiths, Kyle Chandler
Yes! A great coming-of-age adventure
No! May seem a little cheesy to some
At the cusp of the 1980s in a small Ohio town, a group of young teens (Courtney, Griffiths, Fanning, Ryan Lee, Gabriel Basso and Zach Mills) are making a zombie movie, when they witness a terrible train crash. While the air force is investigating the crash, strange things start happening around town.
I thought this movie was just fantastic. There has been a dearth of good coming-of-age movies lately. Most movies with teens these days try to be too clever for their own good, or too saccharine for any teen to identify with.
This is in the tradition of the great 80s adventure films, like The Goonies, or Stand By Me. (I realise those movies are quite different, but the comparison is valid).
The movie was produced by Spielberg and feels exactly like something he would have made in the 80s if he had access to 2011 special effects.
Using relatively unknown actors and “that guy”s definitely works in the movie’s favour, and the children’s acting was wonderful.
It’s both understated and a great action movie. The plot is not especially complex; it deals with themes we’ve seen a million times. But this film takes a simple theme and does it damn well, proving you don’t need a million plot twists and revelations to entertain an audience.
The clothing, environment and even the graininess of the film itself lends a lot to the atmosphere of the time period. The setting of the late 70s was perfect for this movie – a time when young teens were still mostly innocent. Also, the great Horror Movie Plot Destroyer, the cellphone, is irrelevant here.
Yes, it does have elements of horror. It also has elements of drama, science fiction and adventure. The movie is intense enough to keep adults interested, but still fun enough for tweens to teens.
For some who weren’t watching movies in the 80s, the movie might seem cheesy in parts. In my opinion, it’s just the right amount of cheese. Many of the characters (and their arcs) are stereotypical and cliched, but that doesn’t detract at all.
I’d definitely recommend this one.