Super 8 Trailer Analysis: What Does The Super Bowl Teaser Reveal About Abrams' Film?

By Josh Tyler 2011-02-06 22:55:54discussion comments
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Super 8 Trailer Analysis: What Does The Super Bowl Teaser Reveal About Abrams' Film? image
The first real trailer for Super 8 debuted during the Super Bowl tonight, and though it was only 30-seconds it told us more about the movie than we’ve learned in six-months worth of speculating. Except well, this is a JJ Abrams movie, so even though we know more than we did, we still don’t know a lot.

To help uncover whatever there is to uncover we’ve taken detailed screenshots from the trailer, in an attempt to help those of you who haven't been following along with every nugget of Super 8 speculation, to understand just what’s going on. Before we dig in, let’s set the stage. The original teaser showed a pickup truck colliding with a train, and then the train’s subsequent derailment. After its crash we learn there’s something in the train, and it’s hammering on the doors trying to get out. That’s it. Until today when Abrams told the world this:

To me, all people need to know is that it’s an adventure about a small town and it’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s scary and there’s a mystery: What is this thing that has escaped? What are the ramifications of its presence? And what is the effect on people? But I know that’s not enough. Look, I feel we need a little bit of a coming-out party because we are up against massive franchises and brands and most people don’t know what ‘Super 8′ means. We’re a complete anomaly in a summer of huge films … and we don’t want to be so silent or coy that people don’t care or don’t hear about it.

The movie's set in 1979 and follows a troupe of youngsters making their own zombie movie when they spot something emerging from the wreckage of a derailed train. If you haven’t watched the new Super 8 trailer yet, play the embedded version below and we'll dig in to what you just watched right after:


First let’s talk about the voice we hear narrating during the trailer. It starts at around the 16 second mark and says: “Do not speak of this. If you do, they will find you.”

That is the voice of accomplished character actor Glynn Turman. He’s listed as an “uncredited” member of the cast on IMDB. Here’s Glynn speaking back in 2009 for comparison:


As long as we're talking sound, the really excellent score you're hearing is probably just a temporary thing being used in the trailer. I say that because it sounds a lot like it's been borrowed from Battlestar Galactica. UPDATE! Our intrepid Blenditos have gone searching and discovered that even though it sounds a lot like elements from the BSG score, the music used is actually "The Ascension" by James Horner and used in Cocoon. Listen to it here and compare.

Next, Abrams’ raised the question of what the movie’s title means. The trailer explains that rather clearly. If you pause it at the 20-second mark you’ll see this image:


Most cinephiles know that “super 8 mm film” is a motion picture format first widely used in 1965. The camera the boy’s holding in that image is the type of camera that uses super 8 mm film. But that’s actually not the most interesting thing about this photo. Let’s zoom in on the left half of the image:


Note the kid on the left, who appears to be wearing zombie makeup. Then look at the kid behind him, far in the background. He’s wearing headphones around his neck, of the type a sound engineer might wear on a film production. Combine that with the presence of the super 8 camera, the odd pearls around the neck of the girl (and the strange state of her clothes) and these are our kids filming the zombie movie.

Is the whole movie based on some hoax pulled off by a few kids then? That seems unlikely. Though we never really see what’s going on, the movie does show a lot of pretty stunned people staring off into the distance at something, and a lot of those stunned faces belong to the same kids we know are shooting the zombie movie:


Besides there’s all number of strange occurrences happening here, more than just the train derailing. Someone blows up an entire building. Is this some sort of dock or station? It’s hard to tell:


And what’s happening to this poor bastard? Something amazingly strong seems to be dragging him off which suggests that whatever’s going on it isn’t particularly friendly:


Worse, whatever it is that came out of that train, it seems to have the power to effect electronics, as it does when it makes the lights on these cars go off… and is an alien using some sort of otherworldly force to tilt this bus? These are the kinds of tricks you’d expect E.T to pull off:




Next there’s the soldiers. Someone has called in the army and they show up all over the trailer. You saw one with a flamethrower and you saw one standing next to an exploding shop window. But in particular I’m interested in these guys:


They look as though they could be arrayed in a circular formation around a hole, but perhaps just as importantly they don’t seem entirely sure what they’re supposed to be doing other than standing and staring at the light shining back at them. More than anything they remind me of the soldiers in H.G. Wells War of the Worlds, standing around outside the pit where the first alien space craft fell, watching and unsure of what to do until the aliens opened their hatch and started destroying everything in sight. Is that what’s going on here? Maybe. Take a closer look at their uniforms:


You can’t really make out their patches, but their hats are unusual. Except for the guy in the foreground (who is wearing god knows what on his head) they’re all wearing berets. This military uniform resource tells me that in the 60s and 70s berets were only authorized to be worn by Special Forces personnel.

The last batch of clues to be unraveled here are the most complex and confusing. They’re hidden in the movie’s logo, the film lens which flashes on screen right before the title card. If you pause it in the right places you’ll see these two images (among others) hidden within it:




These seem to be shots of two bulletin boards. The first image shows a kid standing in front of the bulletin board reading it, the second is another bulletin board alone. Close closely at the blurry images and you’ll see the word “help” on more than a few of those tacked up pieces of paper. There also seems to be an ad for a lost dog, which doesn’t exactly fit with the rest. Have people gone missing or is this kid just a dog walker looking for work? This could tie in to some of the viral messages related to the film here which allude to people being pursued after going into hiding.

We still have more questions than answers, we've barely scartched the surface here. Fire up your theories about this and everything else in the comments section below, and browse the complete gallery of Super 8 trailer screengrabs.
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