It’s another JJ Abrams mystery! Super 8 has been floating out there for some time and nobody has known what it was - or at least couldn’t go on the record about it. What I was told a while back is that Super 8 isn’t what many people thought it was. People believed the movie to be some kind of an alien invasion film or a Cloverfield-type movie. What I was told was a simple high concept:
ET meets The Goonies.
I think my source left out Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but ET and The Goonies probably sums it up (although I bet Abrams would prefer Stand By Me).
That’s more clear now that the film’s Super Bowl ad has aired and looks like someone was tasked with making Amblin: The Motion Picture. But more of the mystery is cleared up with a description in the LA Times:
The Paramount Pictures release is set in Ohio in 1979 and introduces a troupe of six youngsters who are using a Super 8 camera to make their own zombie movie. One fateful night, their project takes them to a lonely stretch of rural railroad tracks and, as the camera rolls, calamity strikes — a truck collides with an oncoming locomotive and a hellacious derailment fills the night with screaming metal and raining fire. Then something emerges from the wreckage, something decidedly inhuman.
My take? The tiny bit that was shown on the Super Bowl was so obviously Spielbergian that it would have been called a blatant rip-off if the guy hadn’t produced the film. This seems to go beyond the way that De Palma homaged Hitchcock, at least judging by what we saw. To me the commercial looks like a fetish film about 80s kid movies - which I know is something that excites many of you reading this. It’s off-putting to me, and not something I’m hugely interested in. That said I’ve been skeptical of Abrams before and he’s pulled it off, so I’m keeping an open mind.
The footage, in case you just returned to Planet Earth and missed it: