I finally got to see this new film, Super Eight. Enjoyed it! A good take-the-kids popcorn movie, perfect for summer, with likable characters and enough surprises, excitement, and feeling to reward the viewer. Don't leap up to leave as soon as the movie is over - there's a nice extra along with the credits.
Super Eight does, as I'd read, have a real classic-Spielberg feel to it, but not in a copy-cat or homage way exactly... it's more like it could have been made at the same time as E.T. For one thing, the late '70s setting and costumes don't have that exaggerated look that "period" films tend to have - where the hallmarks of the period's style are too obvious and the viewer has to keep saying, "Wow! Look at the period color/hairdo/car etc." Of course, those things are there - you can't help but notice the bulk of the electronics, for instance - but there's no tongue-in-cheek coyness to it. (Unlike the great enormous mobile phone joke in the Wall Street sequel.) Subtle production design.
There are obvious parallels in plot and characters between this film and E.T.... actually, what it feels like to me, is an E.T. made by a Spielberg who, a few years older, had suffered through Vietnam. This film's world is darker, more dangerous, and much more violent and cruel. The hero's mother, for instance, doesn't just die young like Snow White's, she's killed in a brutal industrial accident. The powers that be are not just unthinkingly unkind as in E.T. but malevolent. But love does exist and is powerful and self-sacrificing - and the young hero is truly heroic.