Writer-director J.J. Abrams (who did the 2009 Star Trek reboot) overloads this sci-fi adventure with so many homages to his co-producer Steven Spielberg that it plays like the elder director's greatest hits, minus his characteristic scares and sense of wonder. In a small Ohio burg during the summer of 1979, five middle-school boys and a female classmate collaborate on an amateur Super-8 zombie movie; while filming late one night at the town's railroad depot, they witness a spectacular train derailment, then find mysterious geometric cubes among the wreckage of a secret military shipment. Soon the community is plagued by power surges, ominous noises behind rustling leaves, and unexplained disappearances; when the escaped extraterrestrial insect finally appears, it looks like something assembled from that old children's game Cootie. With Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, and Joel Courtney.
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