Okay, I went into this movie without much hope. I'd seen the trailers, and to be honest, they made it seem dumb. Really, the only reason I went was because a friend had heard good things and we were going to wait till next week to see Green Lantern so a mutual friend could join us.
I'm glad I went. The movie was great!
How to describe it? Take Goonies, E.T., Close Encounters of The Third Kind, and a creature feature and smash them together. That combo may sound odd, but J.J. Abrams managed to make it work. This movie is an Eighties movie with a modern sensibility. It's post-modern Eighties.
And it has kids that can act! They seemed human, vulnerable and brave at the same time, rather than wooden and annoying like the kid from Phantom Menace. It helps that main female child lead is Ellie Fanning, younger sister of Dakota Fanning. It's obvious that acting talent runs in that family. If you don't believe me now you will after you see Ellie at the train station early in the movie. I half believe that the stunned looks on the other kids faces after she falls readily into her role within a role (trust me, it makes sense in context) is completely natural and not faked at all. I think everyone sitting in the theater was just as stunned as they were.
If you have fond memories of the Eighties, then this movie is for you. If you don't, but want to understand the spirit of that time, this movie is for you. And if you don't, well then this movie is still for you. It's just that good.
Whoever worked on the marketing for this film should really be sent back to school. The trailers do nothing to encapsulate the story or provide a tease to draw in a crowd. At least, not from my perspective. I'm glad I listened to my friend and went to see this.