Since last spring, J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg have successfully maintained an impressive level of secrecy around "Super 8." Even a teaser trailer that played in front of "Iron Man 2" last May didn't tell us much beyond the fact that the film involves the mysterious Area 51 facility and the escape of some kind of pissed-off creature.
But with the film's widely discussed Super Bowl commercial, the filmmakers have begun reluctantly pulling back the veil on the summer release. And for the first time, Abrams has talked publically about the late-'70s plot details and the film's creative genesis.
"This is a movie about overcoming loss and finding your way again and finding your own voice," he told the Los Angeles Times. "A boy who's lost his mother and the man who's lost his wife. There's this father who, because of the era, never really had to be the parent. He's a good man, he works hard, he's a deputy in the town, but he's never stepped up as father."
Set in Ohio in 1979, the movie follows six kids who are using a Super 8 camera to make a zombie flick. One night, they end up filming near a set of train tracks and capture a calamitous wreck — the same one first revealed in last year's teaser trailer — and the alien creature that emerges from the wreckage.
Revealing those details was as far as Abrams, who wrote and directed the film, was willing to go at this point. Ideally, he said, he would disclose next to nothing about "Super 8," which Paramount Pictures seems to be positioning as a 21st Century ode to Spielberg's "E.T."
"To me, all people need to know is that it's an adventure about a small town and it's funny, it's sweet, it's scary and there's a mystery: What is this thing that has escaped? What are the ramifications of its presence? And what is the effect on people?" Abrams explained. "But I know that's not enough. Look, I feel we need a little bit of a coming-out party because we are up against massive franchises and brands and most people don't know what 'Super 8' means. We're a complete anomaly in a summer of huge films ... and we don't want to be so silent or coy that people don't care or don't hear about it."
Abrams was, however, willing to talk about how the picture came together. "Super 8" originated from two separate ideas — one about a group of kids filming the world around them with a video camera and the other about an accident following the transfer of materials from Area 51. That combination, Abrams said, put Spielberg in the mind of "E.T.," which told a sci-fi story in tandem with a tale about the breakdown of a family unit following divorce. While Abrams is confident he's got a gem on his hands, he's begun speaking publically about "Super 8" because he doesn't want that gem to get lost in a summer filled with the likes of "Captain America: The First Avenger" and "Transformers: Dark of the Moon."
"We have such a challenge on this movie," Abrams said. "Yes, we've got Steven's name on it and my name on it — for what that's worth — but we've got no famous superhero, we've got no pre-existing franchise or sequel, it's not starring anyone you've heard of before. There's no book, there's no toy, there's no comic book. There's nothing. I don't have anything; I don't even have a board game, that's how bad it is. But I think we have a very good movie."
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