By Joan Alperin-Schwartz: 'Super 8' is written and directed by J. J. Abrams. This film could have been the 'ET' for a new generation of film goers... Unfortunately... it misses the mark.


In the summer of 1979, a group of friends in a small Ohio town set out to make a zombie movie.  While shooting their Super 8 film, the kids witness a catastrophic train crash and, after barely escaping themselves, they come to discover that this was not an accident. 

Soon after, unusual disappearances begin to take place in town and local Deputy Jackson Lamb (Kyle Chandler) along with these aspiring filmmakers, try to uncover the truth about what's really going on.  What they discover is something more terrifying than any of them could have ever imagined.

There's two stories going on here... One works... One doesn't.

First, we have the 'coming of age' story which deals with a multitude of issues including...the loss of a parent, neglect,  first love and friendship.  This story line works beautifully...

All the child actors including...Joel Courtney (Joe Lamb), Gabriel Basso (Martin), Riley Griffiths (Charles). Ryan Lee (Cary) and Zach Mills (Preston) are fantastic.  Elle Fanning, (Alice) the only girl in the group, is as usual... absolutely riveting.

What doesn't work for me is... the 'Alien' story line.  If you don't know what this film is about, then read no further... Don't want to spoil it for you.

Spoiler Alert!! Anyway, the 'Alien' of 'Super 8' is one you've seen over and over again. Think...'Transformers', 'Cloverfield' and even 'District Nine'.  And just  like ET, this gynormous, pissed off, ugly dude from another planet just 'wants to go home'.  Too bad the military, led by Noah Emmerich (Nelec) have other ideas.  After years of torturing this poor guy, he's 'mad as hell and isn't going to take it anymore'... Can you blame him?  

This is where 'Super 8' lets me down.  Couldn't Mr. Abrams come up with a more original story line? A more original looking Alien?  If he had, this movie would have gotten a 5 bagel rating from me instead of just 4 plain ones.

Make sure you stay for the credits... There's a great surprise that shows you... what this film could have been.

'Super 8' opens in theaters Friday June 10, 2011.