Super 8 is 2 movies that brush up against each other occasionally and then meet up in the end.
Movie #1 is a coming of age tale: After 13-year-old Joe’s mother dies in a factory accident, he spends the summer coming to terms with her death, dealing with an emotionally cold father (who happens to be a sheriff’s deputy), filming a zombie movie with his friends. He falls for the lead actress in the film–who just happens to be the daughter of the man “responsible” for his mother’s death.
Movie #2 is an old school sci-fi flick: Thanks to a train wreck, an alien escapes from the military–who desperately want to recapture it. The military wants that alien back and God help you if you get in it’s way.
For most of Super 8, you only get to see Film #1. While you are watching the kids deal with their teenage drama, you get the sense that just out of frame there is this other movie happening. Actually, the other movie is literally playing out in the background of the amateur movie being made by Joe and his friends.
Super 8 leads you to believe that the two films will be better integrated. The kids are present at the train wreck where they talk to a scientist who worked on the military project. He warns them to run because the military will be after them–to kill them. Joe pockets a strange piece of metal from the wreckage.
Really nice set up for the coming of age film to merge with the sci-fi film–and then nothing. The kids go back to making their zombie film–with Joe crushing hard on the girl. Every once in a While, Super 8 will flash a short scene from the sci-fi flick–metal flying about, something making noise–but the kids are nowhere around.
One character, Joe’s dad, appears in both movies simultaneously. In the coming of age tale, he is the out of touch, grieving father. In the sci-fi movie, he is the dutiful deputy who knows the military is lying and will stop at nothing to get at the truth. Problem is that this 1 character isn’t enough connective tissue to hold both movies together.
In the last part of Super 8, 1 of the kids from movie #1 (the girl Joe likes) is snatched up by the alien from movie #2. Joe has to save his girl. It’s all spectacular, while you are watching but if you aren’t careful you could fall through the plot holes.