Super 8

Rated 3.0

A group of teenagers shooting a scene for their amateur zombie movie (including Joel Courtney, Riley Griffiths and Elle Fanning) witness a terrible train wreck. In the days that follow the U.S. Air Force takes over their town and won’t tell anyone what was on the train. Writer-director J.J. Abrams employs his formidable skills in a sort of glib cinematic sleight of hand, persuading us (for a while) that he delivers more than he really does. But he merely recycles Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. in dark and bitter clothing, making the characters so petty (and the military so villainous) that the ending inspires not the exaltation of CE3K or the emotional catharsis of E.T., but only grateful relief. Abrams also includes offhand references to Alien, Transformers and his own Cloverfield.