J.J. Abrams talks 'Super 8' inspiration, '70s rock and Area 51
At the "Super 8" preview in Manhattan last night, J.J. Abrams made it abundantly clear that he's not really a suit-and-tie guy. After a flattering introduction from Paramount mega-brass Brad Grey, the "Star Trek" revitalizer plucked confidently at his black suit collar, shaking his head and the quasi-formality of the "road show"event. That was right before he dropped the f-bomb a half a dozen times.
When I asked Abrams during the reception why the stop-off was scheduled for New York and not L.A., he laughed. "What, did I not dress the part?"
Aside from the wardrobe compunction, the director/writer/producer displayed a sense of ease during the event, and after the extraordinary sneak-peak, there's no reason for him to feel otherwise. With Steven Spielberg on board as producer, "Super 8" has the elements of wide-eye mystery and the promise of intimidating creatures of "Cloverfield" capacity, all through the lens of middle school-aged kids and small-town folk. (Heck, and the "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" looked fun, too.)
Check out my full thoughts on the footage here.
Abrams met Spielberg back when he was but a teen, working with collaborator Matt Reeves on Super 8 films. They in one way or another got roped into restoring the "E.T." director's early 8mm clips "Firelight" and "Escape to Nowhere." Fast-forward a couple dozen years, and Abrams found himself ultimately pitching Spielberg on "Super 8," the coming together of two different ideas.
[More after the jump...]
Abrams said he wanted to develop an idea about teenaged kids digging into shooting Super 8 movies in the late-'70s, just as he did. Separately, he had long intended to write a script about the military moving an alien from Area 51, but its train crashing and the alien escaping. After he had a team of writers trying to hash out either, Abrams combined them.
"I thought 'f*ck it,'" Abrams said. "'I like this, I'll write it myself.'"
As the trailer was played again in the Walter Reade Theatre, and the 20 minutes screened, "Super 8" was electric with the adventure. Viewers weren't privy to actually seeing the monster -- which Abrams, afterward, still was still loath to call an alien -- but even the rough mix of the sound gave these scenes scale. I couldn't help but to think of the smoke monster from "Lost." Sorry.
It was also abuzz with a goosebump-inducing score and nostalgic soundtrack. Michael Giacchino, who's taken home an Oscar for his breathtaking work on "Up," is backing "Super 8," and Abrams' supervisors and editors were specific in selecting tunes of the times: representing the summer of 1979 were songs from Blondie, The Cars and "My Sharona," which the director said reminded him of his own upbringing. He also promised me there'd be some Cheap Trick.
What does Abrams listen to now, as far as new bands go? Off the top, he didn't mention names specifically, but referred to his "kids" as inspiration goes.
"You know, I can't listen to the radio a lot, because it's the same eight fucking songs on all the time," he smiled. Even if a programmer didn't agree, he'd at least be charmed.
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by. It has deep soul, a wicked sense of humor, and Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Pam Grier, and Robert Forster.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
1996 | Crime | RSummary: Jerry, a small-town Minnesota car salesman is bursting at the seams with debt... but he's got a plan. He's going to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife in a scheme to collect a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. It's going to be a snap and nobody's going to get hurt... until people start ...Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
2007 | Comedy | PGSummary: Newlyweds Nick (Ice Cube) and Suzanne (Long) decide to move to the suburbs to provide a better life for their two kids. But their idea of a dream home is disturbed by a contractor (McGinley) with a bizarre approach to business.Director: Steve Carr
Cast: John C. McGinley, Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
2013 | Thriller | RSummary: Based on the true story of Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) a Miami bodybuilder who wants to live the American dream. He would like to have the money that other people have. So he enlists the help of fellow bodybuilder Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and ex-convict, Christian bodybuilder Paul Doyle (D...Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub
Let Streaming Genie help you.