With the launch of the Superbowl commercial this weekend, J.J. Abrams has finally spoken about his highly secretive project “Super 8” in a lengthy article for The Los Angeles Times. Interestingly Abrams himself would rather keep quiet about it, but producer Steve Spielberg and the studio have asked him to talk about the project a bit more as the film has to stand toe-to-toe with some major franchises also opening thus Summer.
“We have such a challenge on this movie. 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 super-hero, 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” says Abrams who seems to enjoy the secrecy.
The project began as two separate films – a small and non-fantastical coming-of-age tale of the kids shooting their home movie, an a high concept project about secret trains shipping things out of Area 51 in the 70’s. The idea was ultimately fused into this project. The plot is described as “Fringe”/”X-Files meets a throwback to 80’s coming of age genre movies like “Stand by Me,” “The Goonies” and most visibly – “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial”.
The story is set in Ohio in 1979 where a group of six young friends are trying to make their own amateur zombie movie using an old Super 8 camera. During filming one night on a lonely stretch of rural railroad tracks, a train carrying cargo from Area 51 collides with a truck and derails. An inhuman beast escapes from the wreckage.
While “E.T.” explored the emotional fallout of divorce on a family mixed with its sci-fi trappings, “Super 8” will explore the issue of loss as it starts with a small-town factory death and its impact on the victim’s family – “This is a movie about overcoming loss and finding your way again and finding your own voice. A boy whose lost his mother and the man whose 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” says Abrams.
The Superbowl commercial below certainly evokes the old Amblin Entertainment style films.