In many ways, “Super 8” is the first film J.J. Abrams has been able to craft that is truly his own. Perhaps it’s even a film that might say something about Abrams as an auteur filmmaker? Up until now, his work on television pilots (“Lost,” “Undercovers”) have been collaborative efforts. And, obviously, “Mission: Impossible III” and “Star Trek” were new reflections of brands created long ago. “Super 8,” on the other hand, is the fashioning of two ideas Abrams admittedly married together. The TV spots are finally starting to pull away the curtain, but the film is mostly about a bunch of kids who get too close to a military accident while filming their own super 8 movie in 1979 small town America. Considering the age of the kids, it’s got to feature characters influenced by the 44-year-old’s own youth, no? Based on my recent conversation with Abrams, it appears not.
If Abrams has a personal connection to the lead character, teenager Joe Lamb (played superbly by newcomer Joel Courtney), he’s not admitting to it. What the Hollywood veteran did shed some light on was his reputation as a master marketer of secrets. From “Star Trek” to “Lost” to “Cloverfield” (as a producer), it’s common knowledge that Abrams has worked diligently to keep details of any of his projects under wraps. And yet, when asked about the difficulty of keeping a film such as “Super 8” quiet when your primary cast is web-friendly teenagers, Abrams claimed he spends less energy on such efforts than you’d think. Well, perhaps he doesn’t, but we’re pretty sure his minions do.
Abrams also spends time discussing producer Steven Spielberg’s involvement (the title wasn’t just for show) and how careful he was to cast Courtney in his first major screen role. It’s an intriguing conversation with one of Hollywood’s ascendant creators and well worth watching.
For Drew McWeeny’s review of “Super 8,” click here.
“Super 8” opens nationwide on June 10.
For year round entertainment commentary follow Gregory Ellwood on twitter @HitFixGregory.