The Teasing of J.J. Abrams' "Super 8": Commentary

5/11/2010 Posted by Admin


The Teasing of J.J. Abrams' "Super 8"

By our guest blogger, Joel Crabtree

If history has taught us anything, it's that there is a right way to tease viewers and a wrong way. When done successfully, studio advertisers can sit back and relax and let the Internet buzz grow a la "Cloverfield."

After J.J. Abrams' success with "Cloverfield" — he served as the film's producer — the king of teasers is aiming to outdo himself with the release of the "Super 8" trailer. Premiering the preview on "Iron Man 2," the summer's most marketable platform, Abrams has sent the Internet into a tizzy yet again.

I'm going to venture a guess that 90 percent of Week in Rewind's readers have seen the trailer by now, and those who haven't have read some sort of step-by-step analysis. So, I'm going to go over it in the sloppiest detail possible.

There's a truck. There's a train. The train appears to be delivering material from Area 51 to Ohio. The train hits the truck. There's an explosion and something ... SOMETHING ... tries to escape from an Air Force container.

Now, I only pretend to be a rocket scientist at job interviews, but I have a feeling that the SOMETHING in question is an alien. Call it a hunch.

As many have pointed out, "Super 8" calls to mind "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." With "Super 8," Abrams is channeling his inner Steven Spielberg. And it's awesome. Maybe more filmmakers should try that, but most directors aren't talented enough to have an inner Spielberg.

"Super 8" is even being made in association with Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment. Brilliant.

Abrams has all the right moves to generate word of mouth and turn his films into a brand well before they hit theaters — or even before anyone knows a thing about them. That's skill. Like "Cloverfield," "Super 8" has the aura of mystery that draws moviegoers in. But does the "Super 8" trailer best its big brother "Cloverfield"?

Simply put: No. It doesn't.

"Super 8's" trailer doesn't leave you with a giant WTF stamped on your forehead quite like "Cloverfield" did. No matter how all-out Abrams goes, I'm not sure he's ever going to be able to reproduce the sheer curiosity that "Cloverfield" did. The feeling after seeing the teaser for "Cloverfield" was surreal. "Super 8" doesn't have that same effect.

"Cloverfield" was one of the most enjoyable movies to come out of 2008. Even though "Super 8's" teaser isn't up to par, there's no doubt it will follow in "Cloverfield's" footsteps. It has fans (myself included) giddy with excitement. You had better believe I'm going to be there opening night for "Super 8," because J.J. Abrams just doesn't disappoint — ever. So, hold on for the ride, there will probably be thousands of clues and false claims leading up to the film's release. I plan on examining every one thoroughly.

As I said before, there's a right way to build suspense for a movie and there's a wrong way. Having looked at some of the winners, let's take a look at the loser. Yes, the single solitary loser that tried to manufacture mystery in 1998.

Yes, "Godzilla" sure was a loser. The big question we were left with was: "What does Godzilla look like?" And moviegoers retorted by asking: "Who cares?" It was a giant gray (I think?) dinosaur in a second-rate "Independence Day" remake. How lame was that?

For more on "Super 8," visit

What are your thoughts on "Super 8"?

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