By now you've hopefully already watched the video I recorded last night after seeing 20-odd minutes of Super 8 at a presentation hosted by Paramount. I promised then that I would be back this morning with more details from the presentation, which also included glimpses of new footage from other upcoming Paramount movies like Footloose and Mission: Impossible-- Ghost Protocol (plus promos for movies we've already seen plenty from, like Thor and Transformers: Dark of the Moon).
But wouldn't you know it, J.J. Abrams' voice is still ringing in my head, as he asked us to write about the footage, but not write too much, not spoil anything, all the while sounding like he'd rather be anywhere than showing off part of his precious film to a group of people who'd make it all public. As I said last night, you can't blame the guy for wanting to keep things under his hat, and even before he pleaded with us not to reveal too much I was considering not saying anything; honestly, I even debated whether or not I wanted to be there. I'm more excited for Super 8 than possibly anything else coming out this year, and on some level wanted to keep the entire thing a surprise until June 10.
And then Abrams, as he usually does, outsmarted me. Though he showed us the entire scene of the train crash that sets off the film's action, plus another action sequence from later in the film that was featured briefly in the trailer, I'm not sure I could tell you anything about the plot you couldn't already surmise. The focus of the footage, as mentioned in last night's video, was the kids at the center of the story-- Joe, the kid being raised by his sherriff dad (Kyle Chandler) after his mom passes away; Charles, the chubby and confident kid behind the group's Super 8 film projects; and Alice (Elle Fanning), the gifted actress who's also Joe's unrequited love. We spent a good amount of time with the kids as they prepared to shoot their movie at the train station at night, and when the enormous, spectacular train crash happens, we're engaged not just because it's well shot, but because these are kids we already love.
There were a few other mysteries revealed in the footage and in what Abrams had to say, and some questions answered that I've had since seeing the second trailer. POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT, though I really think none of this spoils anything.
-- The voice we heard in the teaser trailer -- "Do not speak of this. If you do, they will find you" -- belongs to the kids' biology teacher who is present at the train crash. He actually tells them that they and their families will be killed; clearly, they've all seen something they weren't supposed to.
-- The white cube you see very briefly in the trailer, which flies through the walls of the main kid's bedroom? That's a souvenir from the train crash, though we didn't see it do anything in the footage.
-- Slusho, that constant Abrams Easter Egg, makes an appearance in the second scene, set at a gas station.
--Yes, the lens flares are back. You can glimpse them fairly often in the trailer and there are more to be seen in the footage we saw; at the reception afterwards I asked Abrams about their return, and if he had a philosophy for including them the way he did with Star Trek ("I love the idea that the future was so bright it couldn't be contained in the frame.") He admitted there were a "Fucking ton" of lens flares in Star Trek, so much that even his wife told him to get rid of them, and while there are fewer in Super 8, he included them anywhere he thought it would look cool. Basically, the guy seems done apologizing for them if you find them distracting; while I definitely noticed them in the Super 8 scenes, I wouldn't argue they detract from the reality of the world or from paying attention to the action.
-- He never said the word alien. In fact, nobody mentioned the "a-word," something that Abrams made clear was very deliberate in his conversations after the presentation. I'm honestly starting to wonder if the creature-- or, as Abrams calls it, "the thing"-- that comes from Area 51 isn't extraterrestrial at all. But that's pure speculation, and something I'm certain we won't be learning until the movie his theaters June 10.
END POSSIBLE SPOILERS
It's always hard to write about these kinds of footage presentations without simply gushing, or at least acknowledging that the whole point is to show you the most impressive parts of an unfinished film and wow you. It's especially hard when writing about Super 8, a movie I'm almost incoherently excited to see. But what can I tell you-- I was wowed. There's no summer movie I'm more anxious for. Let's wrap things up by revisiting the trailer that still never fails to give me chills.