Out of all the movies directed by JJ Abrams, that I’ve seen, Super 8 is easily the best. It’s a spot-on and misty-eyed evocation of late 70’s/early 80’s BEARD POWER with nods to countless genre staples. It feels like the ultimate lost Amblin film. Terrific cinematography with an obscenely awesome amount of lens flare POWER, great production design, and energetic and at times exhilarating musical score, and engaging performances from all the kids. It’s not a perfect movie but it’s immediately engrossing, and by the end, completely satisfying. The father-son component was a huge reason for this film’s success as a piece of emotional storytelling; this is the sort of CGI/monster movie I want to see, a film where the need for special effects is born out of the story and the characters and not used as a crutch or for cheap gags. As always, Abrams directs in his awe-shucks style of intensity, making smart creative choices and allowing his innate understanding of entertainment to rule the day. The list of movies that are either visually or thematically referenced in Super 8 is totally wild: Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Explorers, Poltergeist, The Goonies, The Monster Squad. Gremlins, and E.T., to name only a few and off the top of my head. And yet somehow, the movie feels all its own. And it must be mentioned again — there’s an astonishing amount of lens flares in this movie, which always makes me smile. Kyle Chandler totally owned all of his scenes, bring gravitas and sensitivity to his role as the beleaguered father figure, and as usual, Elle Fanning showed why she’s one of the best talents of her generation. This is an underrated blockbuster and one that’s worth revisiting or catching up with if you initially missed it.