A new trailer for the Paramount Pictures film “Super 8” went out to the world via Twitvid and Twitter — very much a sign of the times in Hollywood 2011. The material in that trailer, however, was more like a vibrant time capsule of the youth of the movie’s director, J.J. Abrams, as well as the 1970s and 1980s films so closely associated with its producer, Steven Spielberg. The film is set in 1979 and built around a small-town story of grief, coming-of-age friendships and the arrival of something truly startling and completely alien.
The influence of Spielberg is an intriguing topic and there are plenty of visual cues here that take all of us back to “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” and even “Jaws” — you can make a list (and many bloggers certainly will) of the Spielbergian shots of kids with feathered hair riding bikes or being bathed in pulsing light as they cast their eyes skyward; of an earnest local lawman dealing with a mysterious predatory danger and angst at home; or impersonal federal authorities who seem more alien in their lockstep than the beastie in the woods, etc. That whole line of discussion will get a lot of traction for the simple reason that so much of this movie has been kept under wraps (which is the standard approach by Abrams); in fact, the only substantial interview that Abrams has done to date about this film was right here at Hero Complex, and all of the filmmaker’s radio silence might be filled by critical static about derivative movie-making.
I think I’ll wait to see the whole film before I start calculating whether Abrams has taken his influences too far. I can say that I’ve seen about 35 minutes of footage and the movie, to my eye, it has a heart and heritage that give it a chance to be really special. Simply put, right now there’s no movie this summer I’m more excited to see than “Super 8” and that’s more about Abrams and his future than Spielberg and his past.
— Geoff Boucher
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