Blogger Alasdair Stuart comments on the new Abrams and Spielberg project
I can thread a piece of wool through a balloon without bursting it. Seriously, and, like all the best magic tricks, there's no trick to it all. The entire process is out on stage for everyone to see. I used to be a stage magician... well, technically I still am as it's not something that ever leaves you. And as a result, I've got a real soft spot for JJ Abrams. Abrams understands magic, understands the need to direct your audience one way whilst moving in another and most of all, he's got a real, instinctive understanding of something almost no other genre film maker has:
Less is more.
Recently the trailer for Abrams' new movie, Super 8, was shown on the front of Iron Man 2 prints in the US. It wasn't entirely secret - word of the existence of the trailer, the title and a possible plot surfaced on Monday - but that was the first anyone had heard of it. Considering we live in a world where spoilers are rampant and scripts are sometimes on the internet within hours of being handed to actors, that's quite an achievement.
So what do we know? It's called Super 8 , it's directed by Abrams, produced by Stephen Spielberg and is almost certainly the Spielberg tribute project Abrams was discussing a few weeks ago. There's clear common ground between the two, both fascinated by normal people in extraordinary circumstances, both fascinated by science fiction and both big, big fans of the pledge, the turn, the prestige. These two men tell stories the way magicians perform magic tricks and the Super 8 trailer is a perfect example of how they work.
The trailer cuts between white text on a black background, explaining that in 1979, a section of Area 51 was closed and a train carrying some of the material stored there. We watch as it hurtles through the night, hear the radio traffic as the driver reports in. Suddenly, a pickup truck smashes through the barrier, hurtles towards the train and crashes headlong into it. The cars derail, bursting and shattering as the train tears itself apart.
We track through the wreckage until the camera stops on a metal crate marked US AIR FORCE. The wheel lock on the outside begins to turn as inside, something pounds on the door again, and again, and again. It smashes out, the camera cuts and the trailer closes on a close up of film moving past a Super 8 camera lens.
That's all we know, Area 51, something awful that wants out and gets it, a Super 8 camera. This is the trailer as it should be, a prologue, a hint of what's to come and it's absolutely in lock step with Abrams' cheeky "under construction" trailer for Star Trek and the Cloverfield teaser, stripped of every piece of information other than the apocalyptic events in New York. This is the pledge, the promise that something is coming and because there's so little to grab hold of, we pay complete attention. This is the balloon in one hand, the needle in the other and the audience completely enraptured. Regardless of whether the film itself holds up, this is the trailer, the pledge at it's absolute best.
So roll on next year and something awful loping across the countryside in 1979. The Super 8 camera is running and I'll be one of the first in line.