Super 8 is a movie which fits nicely into the Spielberg tradition as much as it could just as easily have fit into the Disney tradition.
While the movie starts with a winter scene the story takes place during the summer after school is out and the kids have all the time in the world on their hands. In this case all the time in the world is time to shoot a zombie movie. It is the summer of 1979 and the group of friends lead by the directory, writer, producer Charles are out to shoot a zombie movie to enter into a movie making contest. Charles is played with surprising skill by newcomer Riley Griffiths who delivers an annoying and occasionally poignant performance. The story however centres on Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) who is the son of a deputy and whose mother has recently died in an industrial accident. Rounding out the crew Elle Fanning who does not miss a dramatic note once as Alice Dainard, Gabriel Basso (The Big C) as Martin the leading man in the zombie movie and Ryan Lee as pyrotechnic bug Cary.
The movie is about the kids filming their movie at night at the town train station. They inadvertently capture a train wreck on film (Kodak Super 8 stock) while making their movie. Almost immediately after the crash strange things start to happen – not the least of which is who is responsible for the train crash.
From a directorial, acting, scripting stand point this is a solid movie from start to finish. Super 8 is family friendly fare but not for the young ones. The PG 13 rating is probably due to drug references which are definitely anti drug and there is occasional strong language but nothing a 13 year old hasn't heard at school. If kids are not used to or do not like intense movies Super 8 is not for them. While there are slow moments the movie is fast paced with frequent intense violence especially in the latter third of the film.
In essence this is a science fiction horror/coming of age film. It is well done, easy to follow and ends with a fittingly Spielberg ending. Super 8 is absolutely worth your time.