At last, J.J. Abrams peels back the curtain on his mystery movie Super 8

The more we find out about J.J. Abrams' mysterious Super 8 movie, the more Steven Spielberg thumbprints we start spotting. Abrams' latest interview with the LA Times includes a few details, which flesh out some of the clues and plot points we spotted in the new trailer.

Here's the film's first real plot description, which seems to connect the small town to the train tragedy we saw in the teaser trailer back in May:

Super 8 takes its name from the Eastman Kodak film format that became a sensation with amateur movie-makers in the late 1960s and represented a rite of passage for several generations of aspiring directors, among them Spielberg and Abrams. 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.

The LA Times was privy to about 30 minutes of Super 8 footage including "an especially savage destruction of a gas station" and "a heartbreaking father-son conversation." Mashing up some intense alien action with family drama appealed to Spielberg, who's no stranger to doing the same thing, in films like E.T. Apparently, Super 8 is full of heavy stuff, including the "small-town factory death that is very much of the real world," even before you add to the mix an escaped alien that was being treated like freight-train cargo, on the road to Area 51.

Talking to the Times, Abrams expands some more on the emotional turmoil surrounding his six core characters:

"This is a movie about overcoming loss and finding your way again and finding your own voice," Abrams said. "A boy who's lost his mother and the man who's lost his wife. There's this father who, because of the era, never really had to be the parent. He's a good man, he works hard, he's a deputy in the town, but he's never stepped up as father."

Spielberg isn't the only famous director that Super 8 is pulling from — with its small cast of six youngsters, Rob Reiner's Stand By Me is constantly mentioned as a touchstone for this 1979-set flick. Interestingly enough, Abrams sought the advice of Reiner for casting, as well as Let Me In's Matt Reeves.

Meanwhile, as we mentioned yesterday, if you were wondering why the music in the trailer sounded so familiar it's because James Horner's Cocoon theme (thanks for the tip Katey Rich).


So this is what we learned about Super 8:

  • It's set in 1979 in Ohio
  • It stars 6 kids
  • The Super 8 refers to the camera the 6 kids use to make their own zombie movie (a "movie within the movie"-type thing)
  • The film begins with "small-town factory death"
  • The main character's family is missing its mother, possibly from the tragedy
  • Influences include James Horner, E.T. and Stand By Me
  • Friday Night Lights and Early Edition's Kyle Chandler is in it