Movie Fanatic was out in Beverly Hills last night at the Blu-Ray premiere of Super 8 and writer-director J.J. Abrams stopped by to chat about his latest smash. Super 8 is out on Blu-Ray and DVD and contains a plethora of extras that is sure to thrill the Abrams fan, as well as fans of cinema in general.
Abrams wrote and directed Super 8 with his idol Steven Spielberg producing. The story of a group of teenage kids in 1979 making their own Super 8 zombie movie is clearly all Abrams, but possesses an uncanny feel of the Spielberg classics of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Fitting, since Abrams himself made Super 8 movies during that period as a teenager, inspired by the man who would come to produce his latest movie.
"I grew up in LA making movies with friends, making the same kind of stuff. Of course, not with a massive train crash,” Abrams told Movie Fanatic and laughed. One of the greatest scenes in the entire film is a spectacular train crash that lets loose something mysterious that will haunt the kids’ small town and bring the weight of the U.S. military to town establishing an almost martial law.
Abrams cast a group of unknowns, save Elle Fanning who stars as the sole woman in the boys’ film, and clearly could not have been happier with their performances and professionalism. “They were amazing, especially because they hadn’t done much before. That was the greatest -- working with a group of kids that were so naturally talented and came to work really prepared,” Abrams said and smiled wide. “I thought they might have trouble with their lines. No, they were awesome.”
The Super 8 DVD and Blu-Ray contains several bonus featurettes that take the viewer inside the process of making the film and really allow you to see how Abrams found and worked with these teenage actors and helped produce brilliance.
Super 8’s other features that astound include a commentary track by Abrams, cinematographer Larry Fong -- a longtime collaborator of Abrams’ since he was a child -- and producer Bryan Burk.
Also astounding is a feature on the score by Michael Giacchino. Its haunting melodies (as heard prominently in the Super 8 Blu-Ray trailer) and sweeping epic soundscapes, according to Giacchino, truly came from the heart.
“The sadness of this story really speaks for itself. There’s this kid who loses his mother and he doesn’t have a great relationship with his father. It all really came out of that. Then there’s the boy trying to figure out his relationship with this girl -- that was always very appealing to me too. Those feelings in the film are what drove me. It wasn’t the sci-fi or monster aspect of it. It is all really about relationships,” Giacchino said.
And for the film’s composer, the release of Super 8 on Blu-Ray and DVD marks something for him that transcends the here and now. “You get into these things and you hope what you make is enjoyable for people for a long time,” Giacchino said. “The thought that somebody can pull this off the shelf at any time, that’s cool. I really like that. That means that you did something good. We’ll be long gone, and hopefully people will still be watching it.”
For Abrams, Super 8 and its resonance, he hopes, is on the scale of the Spielberg films that inspired him to first pick up a camera. “As a byproduct of this movie, if any kid gets inspired to make a movie, it would be awesome,” Abrams said. “But it is far more understood now than when I was a kid. To be 14 or 15 years old and have a camera making movies was kind of a novelty at that time in ’79 or ’80. Now, everyone’s got phones with cameras on them at all times. With editing equipment being off the shelf, downloadable on your computer, it’s so much easier -- to shoot the movie, to edit the movie, to show it to people. In a weird way, I hope that people get equally excited about trying to tell a story on film, but with video.”