Spoiler-ish ramble below.
So Super 8 is ET if the military got to him first. And ET was bigger.
Production and pace-wise this was a great movie. There was rarely a moment of lag, and the train crash is truly spectacular.
The characters are all clearly drawn, though most of them hardly have any time to show themselves, and it's hard to avoid thinking "self-insert" given they're all would-be movie-makers. There's three arcs for the main character (father-son, buddy, and boy-girl) which are workable, though time restraints mean we don't really get as much power as we could from any of them.
As per usual, the military are evil and idiotic, which is tedious and predictable. They're also apparently omnipresent, since they manage to turn up at a train derailment in the middle of nowhere before the locals.
It felt oddly more like the 60s than the 80s, even with a Walkman making an appearance (one which apparently makes you completely deaf to even Really Loud noises).
The story really is ET - an alien has crashed to Earth and just wants to go home. The military want him and his tech, and this time they keep him for twenty years while playing with bits of his spaceship. Some kids get involved, though it wouldn't be true to say they help him escape so much as survive him escaping.
This ET, though, kidnaps quite a few people and hangs them up by their feet, which screams 'larder' to me, and seems to go against the "he just wants to leave" theme.
Once again I was distracted from the story by Role of Girl. Yet again, Role of Girl was to be kidnapped and rescued. This by no means surprised me, but it was another tedious point - and followed on from two trailers (Green Lantern and Captain America) where the only female to appear in each trailer was Love Interest whose role appears to be to Be Supportive and Believe In Her Man.
I miss Buffy.