J.J. Abrams’ ‘Super 8′ Trailer NOT Related To ‘Cloverfield,’ But What Is It Hiding?

A lot of reports are flying around on the Internet today about this super-secret J.J. Abrams trailer that will be running in front of “Iron Man 2” this weekend. It was rumored earlier this week that the trailer might have links to the recently revealed Abrams collaboration with Steven Spielberg and that it might be connected in some way to “Cloverfield.”

It turns out that the former is true, but the latter is not. Abrams told Vulture this week that the trailer “has nothing whatsoever to do with ’Cloverfield.'” The trailer itself reveals the truth of the Spielberg link: he’s producing. /Film has best description I’ve seen. Here’s a basic breakdown:

A train loaded with materials from Area 51, which is being moved from Nevada to Ohio, is derailed when it collides with a truck. The focus comes to rest on one sealed car within the wreckage; something inside is trying to get out, and whatever it is is strong enough to dent the metal walls of the container as it tries to break out. We know it’s not “Cloverfield”-related… so what could be in that train car?

I would guess that we probably won’t get much of a glimpse at whatever’s in the train until next year. However, since we now know that this is the rumored Spielberg project, there are a few puzzle pieces to shift around the board. The most telling info comes from an unnamed source who told New York Magazine’s Vulture blog that, in the story that Abrams wrote, “personal relationships are tested when [everyday people] are thrown up against extraordinarily fantastic — and possibly other-worldly — events.” The project, which we now know to be “Super 8,” is meant as “a tip of the hat to [Spielberg’s] movies of the ’70s and early ’80s.” The same source also said that Abrams will serve up an “interpretation of some of Spielberg’s earlier films, but done in a personal way,” going on to describe the intended finished product as “an anti-’Avatar.'”

Among Spielberg’s ’70s/’80s work, I think there are three big titles that match up nicely with the “everyday people dealing with fantastic situations” setup: “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “Jaws.” The latter two are especially careful about building suspense by NOT showing the creatures at the heart of the story until it is absolutely necessary.

I think we can also infer that the “interpretation… in a personal way” will probably involve a character-operated handheld camera and some of those “found” footage elements that marked “Cloverfield.” My hope is that the movie serves up a mixture of handheld “found” footage and more traditionally shot scenes. Abrams certainly displayed some inventiveness in “Cloverfield”’s conceit, but “found” footage-driven films are starting to feel rather gimmicky.

Do you readers have any guesses or theories about what we might expect from “Super 8″? How do you think a Abrams’ “personal” interpretation of early Spielberg might look? Which milestones in the elder filmmaker’s career do you think he paid the most attention to in crafting a story for “Super 8″?