JJ Abrams, creator of Alias and Lost, pays homage to Steven Spielberg with a terrific sci-fi mystery that comes across as The Goonies meets Close Encounters.

In 1979 small-town Ohio, a typically Spielbergian setting, a bunch of young kids are making a zombie movie on the Super-8 film stock of the title. Joel Courtney‘s 12-year-old Joe has immersed himself in the project as a way of coping with the recent loss of his mother; a tragedy deftly conveyed in the wordless opening shots. Other members of the zombie film’s cast and crew include tubby know-it-all Charles (Riley Griffiths), goofy pyromaniac Cary (Ryan Lee) and tomboyish Alice (Elle Fanning), on whom Joe soon develops a crush.

What kicks off the plot, however, is a devastating train crash, witnessed at terrifyingly close quarters by the youngsters. What was the train carrying? Whatever it was, the military are soon swarming over the site and strange things start happening. Of course, as the crisis intensifies, it’s the kids who prove instrumental in saving the day.

To be honest, the film’s resolution is a tad disappointing, but the first half is tremendous – the train crash will have you ducking for cover. And with its nostalgic period setting, stunning special effects and charming performances, Super 8 is the best movie Spielberg never made.

Released on DVD & Blu-ray on Monday 12th December by Paramount Home Entertainment.

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To activate the sound in the trailer: hold your cursor over the screen to reveal the control panel and click on the volume control in the bottom right-hand corner.