Though we’ll have a review next week, when a film is as shrouded in mystery as J.J. Abrams‘s Super 8, it’s worth giving a heads-up peak at the film. Reviews are now starting to pop on line, and the plot has finally become revealed. A group of kids are making a horror movie when a late night shoot leaves them a witness to a trainwreck, and on that train is an alien. The town is then put under military command, but the kids keep making their movie. What did we think? Check it out..

It seems most of the earlier word was exceptionally positive. It’s worth tempering that enthusiasm. Though Super 8 is J.J. Abrams’s most polished work as a filmmaker, the narrative is a hodgepodge of ideas lifted from Steven Spielberg (don’t worry, he won’t sue – he produced the film). There’s nothing wrong with that per se, and the film functions as a nostalgia piece for both childhood, and the Amblin early 80′s touch, but Abrams has few of Spielberg’s gifts as a storyteller. What makes E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind so powerful is that they have a narrative simplicity and a driving force behind them. Close Encounters is about experiencing an alien presence, and E.T. is about making friends with an alien. Everything that drives those films is elegant in their simplicity. This film has little of that.

This then leads to Abrams’ biggest problem as a filmmaker. He likes his secrecy, but when forced to reveal something, it’s usually less than meets the eye. The alien elements of the film is where the movie fails in big and small ways. When Super 8 is focused on the kids it’s great, but how the two narratives come together is clunky, and mostly doesn’t work. To that end, his Star Trek is the better film because it’s not building to a reveal. On the whole, Super 8 an okay movie and a welcome respite from sequels and remakes (even though this is very much an homage piece), but for those pining for Spielberg in his prime are better off hitting their DVD collection.

Are you stoked for Super 8?