Australian Council on Children and the Media

Super 8

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Not suitable under 13, not recommended 13-15 (Violence, disturbing scenes and themes, coarse language, drug use)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Super 8
  • a review of Super 8 completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 23 June 2011.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to violence, disturbing scenes and themes, coarse language and drug references.
Children 13-14 Not recommended due to violence, disturbing scenes and themes, coarse language and drug references.
Children 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Super 8
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Science fiction themes, violence, coarse language and drug use
Length 108 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Thirteen-year-old Joe Lamb’s mother has been killed in a factory accident. Four months later, at the beginning of summer, Joe (Joel Courtney) 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 film on Super 8 film. They witness a truck being driven by their biology teacher Dr Woodward (Glynn Turman) driving on to train tracks, crashing into an oncoming train and causing a derailment. Woodward survives, but warns the children to never speak of what they saw that night because they and their parents will be killed.

Air force personnel arrive to investigate the accident and in the following days strange things begin to happen in the town. People and pets disappear; electronics and parts of cars also go missing. Meanwhile, the military question Dr Woodward and kill him when he won’t cooperate.

Then Alice is abducted and the town is evacuated with surrounding fires being used as an excuse. The military take over the town and the children break into the school to search for any information that Dr Woodward may have had. 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 right past wrongs.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Extraterrestrial life; death of a parent

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is violence in this movie including:

  • 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 by lethal injection
  • Jack attacks and hits a guard with a machine gun, then fires at a petrol truck which blows up and sends people flying
  • Military personnel fire weapons at an extraterrestrial being

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scene, there area number of scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • A number of crashes and fiery explosions, particularly in the scene where the children are in real threat of being hurt by the exploding derailed train
  • The extraterrestrial being looks scary, particularly when we see the full view in the final scenes
  • Joe is upset by the death of his mother
  • Alice runs away from her father, who is drunk and shouts at her to go away
  • Alice is abducted by the extraterrestrial being and later Joe is attacked by it

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned violent and distressing scenes

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Donny offers to sell marijuana to Charlie
  • Donny smokes a joint and gets stoned
  • Alice’s father Louis is an alcoholic and we see him drunk

Coarse language

There are some coarse language and putdowns in this movie, including:

  • holy shit, dick, pussy, son of a bitch, dork, what the fuck?

In a nutshell

Super 8 is a teen science fiction thriller with spectacular effects and sense of mystery. It tackles the themes of friendship, young love, single parenthood, the misunderstanding of adults, and how everyday people cope with encountering an extraordinary situation.

The main messages from this movie are

  • the importance of friendships
  • the importance of forgiveness and compassion
  • that life doesn’t always turn out the way we expect it to

 Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • courage
  • self sacrifice

 This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as

  • the perils of taking drugs
  • lying
  • criminal activity (stealing, breaking into property)

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