Super 8 (2011, JJ Abrams)

Not an actual movie, but an admirable simulacrum. Abrams imagines a mid-80’s Spielberg adventure, complete with teenage protagonists each with a couple sympathetic personal details, aliens and intrigue (“Do not speak of this or else you and your parents will die,” says Glynn Turman, who was also the first casualty in Spielberg-produced Gremlins), likeably honest small-towners and evil shadowy government conspiracy. That’s actually the thing I liked most about the movie, watching it the same week as the politically shady Contagion. Abrams puts his unique directorial stamp on the material (just kidding – he simply floods it with lens flares).

I found a shot of the kids without lens flare:

Glynn Turman:

Kid named Joe is helping made a zombie movie with friends, who recruit his crush Alice (Elle Fanning, tiny Cate Blanchett in The Benjamin Buttons). With names like Joe, Alice and their buddy Preston, sometimes it seems like this was written as a 1940’s movie then changed at last minute. Joe’s mom died in a factory accident caused indirectly by Alice’s dad, Joe’s dad (Kyle Chandler of Katy’s football show) is the town cop, Charles (the super-8 director) has a thing for Alice – these are our token character details, the Stand By Me half of the big-budget action movie. Seems that a vindictive alien escaped from gov’t captivity when Turman drove his pickup truck onto train tracks causing an outrageously overdone crash, which throws train cars into the air like in a Transformers flick but doesn’t kill Turman or fully destroy his truck. Shadowy gov’t agent Nelec will finish the poor guy off before being dispatched by the alien, who proceeds to loot the area of all wiring, engines and other metal bits to construct a vessel home, finally turning the town water tower into a Katamari Damacy electro-magnet.

Runaway dog map:

The kid’s sentimental locket is Katamari-bound: