Friday, May 20, 2011

Movie Preview

Super Psyched for Super 8

Directed by J.J. Abrams
Written by J.J. Abrams
Produced by J.J. Abrams, Steven Spielberg and Bryan Burk
Starring: Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler, AJ Michalka, Ron Eldard and Noah Emmerich
Music by Michael Giacchino
Cinematography: Larry Fong
Editing by Maryann Brandon
Studio: Bad Robot Productions & Amblin Entertainment
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Budget: $45-50 million

Release Date United States: June 10, 2011 in both standard and IMAX theaters.

      The promotional might behind J.J. Abrams latest film, Super 8 is robust—perhaps, akin to today's massive gasoline prices. People pay more at the pump, but question the nature of the increase. That is the genius of Abrams (and no, I'm not saying he's responsible for exorbitant gas prices). He unveils just enough in plot detail to satiate the colossal intrigue of super fan boys, but never alludes to that one critical feature. It leaves even the most hardened of investigative cyber cinephiles dumbfounded. More importantly, implementing clever marketing tactics escalate the anticipation of every moviegoer from NY to Shanghai, necessitating a rise in interest that's second only to congenital curiosity.
      The buzz has been building to a crescendo since the first glimpse hit the Internet last May via a mysterious teaser clip on YouTube. Now, Super 8 is one of the most anticipated films of 2011. With Steven Spielberg on board as producer and a cast of promising young actors led by Elle Fanning, each newly minted snippet intensifies the monstrous anticipation. Abrams must be aware of the pressure. But his sterling track record, one that illustrates an impeccable knack to match enormous hype, has moviegoers brimming with hope.

      Synopsis: "In the summer of 1979, a group of friends in a small Ohio town witness a catastrophic train crash while making a super 8 movie and soon suspect that it was not an accident. Shortly after, unusual disappearances and inexplicable events begin to take place in town, and the local Deputy tries to uncover the truth - something more terrifying than any of them could have imagined." Courtesy of Super 8 site (
      Steven Spielberg defined the modern "summer blockbuster."  His thrilling 1975 masterpiece about a man-eating great white shark captivated audiences nationwide. Jaws marked the first real definitive high concept narrative; a thrilling, terrifying yarn that drove more audiences to the multiplex, leading to more vigorous distribution methods. Without any hint of hyperbole, Jaws laid the framework for the modern-day, big-spectacle promotional machine that surrounds the summer movie season.
      The imprint left by Spielberg's marvelous presentation—Jaws was a resounding box office hit—has been felt for decades. Directors, studios, marketers, and the like have continually imitated his visionary design, but continually failed to produce his impact—save for some prominent examples (most recently, Avatar). The key component, aside from an inspired, commercially robust marketing strategy, is execution. Too many marketing ploys leave the vast majority of moviegoers—moviegoers who have large appetites for science fiction extravagance—with an ineffectual pill to swallow. Undoubtedly, Spielberg is an ingenious virtuoso behind the camera. The pivotal question is whether J.J. Abrams, the Spielbergian protege, can overcome this astronomic disconnect. Can the TV wunderkind engineer a science fiction film as rich in design as it is in delivery?

      Abrams, perhaps more prominently known as the creator and co-creator of Lost, Alias and Felicity, is experiencing the infant stages of his promising feature film career. As a producer for Cloverfield, Abrams spearheaded a successful viral marketing campaign that produced greater results than the actual film. And as a director, he took over the beloved Star Trek franchise. The end result was a rousing science fiction adventure film that appealed to geeks and regular dudes.  
      Super 8 unleashes a similar marketing mystique, but with a much different sense of big screen flamboyance and prowess. It's a sensation seldom felt...really since the Spielberg-dominated 80's and 90's with such films as Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park and yes (two films many fans are hoping Super 8 can recreate, at least in terms of the awe factor), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.
      Myriad trailers and clips do suggest that Abrams is poised to reward his passionate fan base. Super 8 may be primed to inhabit the Spielbergian galaxy of nostalgic, childlike wonder and awe. Abrams, it appears (I cannot stress that pretension enough), has made a movie of the Spielberg, by the Spielberg, for the Spielberg—Super 8, after all, is driven by gigantic set pieces, elaborate special effects and infinite imagination. Whether or not Abrams revives the spirit of the aforementioned Rushmore of film does not matter. What matters to me is the fact that June 21, 2011 signals the day—one that makes me wish I was still ten years old to fully appreciate—when I step foot in my local theater, beholding a long-forgotten sense of childlike enthusiasm. I may be overstating my anticipation (maybe not), but I believe in the power of cinema.  


*Paramount has released four TV spots for Super 8. They can all be found here.

**Additionally, there are four clips listed in order below (from first to last). These clips allude to the plot, but thankfully, do not address the central Whatever-Is-Causing-All-The-Trouble phenomenon. Each clip is edited like a TV spot (as opposed to actual excerpts from the movie), unloading a furious 30 seconds of discernible and indiscernible extravagance.

Clip 1: The dangers of movie-making; a slick, explosive train sequence.

Clip 2: Try not to get killed by the massive train wreck.

Clip 3: Some curious kids, mysterious cubes, and chilling exposition.

Clip 4: The frantic kids flee from the aforementioned wreckage. Why? No one wants to mess with the U.S. military.

Today is Friday. In honor of Smokey, I'd say Abrams film looks dope. What do you guys and gals think?


  1. I am dying, DYING to see this film. I really hope that I am not doomed to disappointment like I was with Cloverfield. J.J. does seem to have a real knack for building the anticipation like Spielberg once did. And with Speilberg as producer, it seems as though Super 8 is poised to own a large share of summer box office. Quite possibly outperforming some of the more heavily marketed superhero flicks.

  2. I think Abrams has mastered hype and anticpation. he's great at getting the story going. He's got the first twist down cold. After that he's failed to live up to expectation every time. If this film works (and i certainly hope it does) it'll be because he's finally figured out how to do endings.

    Moody Writing

  3. Brilliant preview, Matty! "Super 8" is one of my most anticipated movies of 2011, and just like Mel, I'm DYING to see it! :) J.J. Abrams is fantastic, and he always manages to deliver, and I have zero doubts that he'll do it again with this creature feature.

  4. the whole film reminds me in its atmosphere of the sf family films we liked in the 80's, and it kinda looks like it was directed by Spielberg :)
    I'm not sure how well it will go at the box-office and whether it will have some unnecessary weird moments with the strange aliens.

  5. @ Melissa

    Yes! Love your enthusiasm. I share your reluctance. This movie could be a mega classic or a damning disappointment. Let's hope for the former. Spielberg's enormous influence gives me great confidence.

    @ mooderino

    Your thoughts are so true. He is quite the master manipulator. This movie is his big opportunity to prove he's no M. Night Shyamalan in the feature film realm.

    In terms of box office success, the assessment is tricky. There are no real big actors in the film (save for Kyle Chandler who regular moviegoers may recognize from Friday Night Lights). Of course, Spielberg and Abrams names provide great recognition, so perhaps that will offset the lack of big star appeal.

  6. @ Nebular

    Thanks amigo! As you can tell, I'm wholly on board with your super anticipation. Maybe one of us could score some VIP tickets!

    @ manda

    Well thank you very much. I'm delighted to welcome you to my cinematic universe.

    @ Dezmond

    Absolutely! There's that undeniable Spielbergian circa-1980's extraordinary, science fiction feel to it.

    I'm with you on the box office appeal. It may struggle to be a runaway hit because of the absence of any big time star presence (in terms of the actors).

    But as we know, Avatar lacked big acting names and was the biggest not-adjusted for inflation box office gross ever. I believe that film's success supports the idea that average moviegoers also identify with known directing talents (James Cameron). Not just actors. We shall see.

  7. This weekend I screened, "Inatacto", "Assassination Of A High School President" and "The Babysitters".

    You might like.

    Have a super week.

  8. @ Harry

    Thanks for the recommendations. I'll have to investigate those movies.

    Have a fantastic week, yourself!

    @ Sand Castles

    Awesome! You should take the little one with you. This is the kind of film (it has not yet been rated), I presume will be an exciting time for all ages. If not, you know where to find me.

  9. June 10 is almost here, I completely can't wait! :)

  10. Oh, man. I wish it was here already. We need to get early screening rights, lol!