This film is a play on Speilberg's classic alien film E.T. from 1982. In Abram's version the alien loses his way and ends up on earth where is he is discovered by the military. This time said alien is not quite as cute and lovable and does not escape before being tortuously experimented upon. In a desperate bid to save the being, Dr. Woodward, who has a psychic connection to the creature, causes the train transporting the alien to crash. This crash is witnessed by adolescent main character Joe Lamb and four of his friends as they are filming a low-budget zombie movie on Super 8 film. As the military swoops in to clean up the crash, the fictional Ohio town begins to experience mysterious and frightening phenomenon.
The special effects are amazing, as one would expect from Abrams, but all-in-all the movie was a disappointment. It had that unfortunate characteristic of having been done before and done better. Homage or no, Mr. Abrams could have made a much more compelling film.
Of the distractors, and there were many, the most bothersome was the use of almost continual foul language by the adolescent characters. Both Wingnut and I agreed this use of profanity made the characters extremely unsympathetic. It's difficult to feel for a character when one has to cringe at nearly every sentence uttered. I will say that as far as I can recall the main character, Joe, and his puppy-love interest Alice, played beautifully by Elle Fanning, did not utter a single offensive word, mercifully.
A second annoyance were the near constant hat tips to the 70s. Yes, we get it JJ, the movie is set in the 70s. The stream of cultural references was truly unneeded. Guess what? The 70s weren't that great, culturally or otherwise.
Finally, the most serious defect, IMHO, was the overuse of catharsis in the film. There are cathartic scenes between Joe and his father, Joe and his friend Charles, Joe and Alice, Alice and her father, Joe's father and Alice's father, and Joe and the alien--too much already!
I wanted to like Super 8, I really did, but I just could not overlook the many problematic deficiencies. Due to violent and frightening scenes and the shear volume of profanity I would recommend this film to much older teens and adults, if I were to recommend it at all. The USCCB rates this film A-III, adults.