Here is another movie by Steven Spielberg where the protagonist is an adolescent boy and there’s an alien. While it might sound familiar, and while there might be some superficial parallels, this is definitely not some kind of ET remake. This is darker and grittier. This is coming of age on the fast track where the dilemmas are adult, they are challenging, and people’s lives are at stake.

The story centers around four boys who are engaged in the making of an amateur zombie movie being filmed in … Super 8. The director is the protagonist’s best friend and the protagonist is the special effects and make-up guy. One of the guys is the star of the movie. The other operates the camera and plays various zombies.

There is a girl (Elle Fanning, Dakota Fanning’s younger sister) who is brought in to play the wife in the zombie movie. The protagonist has a serious crush on her – and so does the director. Her character provides some of the most surprising moments in the movie.

While they’re filming a scene at the local train station, a passing train derails catastrophically. The meat of the movie is the investigation into the cause of the crash and how it affects the town in which most of the characters live.

One thing that Super 8 shares with ET is moments of pure cinema magic. This movie is a rich and complicated story where the details matter and wonderful stuff is everywhere.

The movie is full of interesting people, many of whom are wrestling with serious issues. I think that the predominant theme, though, is forgiveness. What can be forgiven? What is required before forgiveness becomes possible?

Overall, I thought it was a superb movie, worth seeing in the theater (if you enjoy big screen viewing). Plan on staying through the credits, though – there’s a little surprise.