In J.J. Abrams upcoming film Super 8 there is a monster of some sort that escapes from a crashed military transport train in 1979 and subsequently terrorizes a small Ohio town. What is this monster? What is it capable of? Where is it going? Based on some observations made of the Super 8 Super Bowl commercial, this menace may be far more complex than Godzilla or Cloverfield that came before it.
The L.A. Times published an article/interview with writer/director J.J. Abrams a few hours prior to the Super Bowl spot airing in which he opened up about the film to the public for the first time. Though Abrams admitted then to not be willing to reveal his monster, author Geoff Boucher may have slipped in describing what he wasn’t allowed to talk about. Specifically he wrote about he and Abrams discussing off-the-record “the challenge of creating a compelling alien that would capture the imagination of audiences.”
The word “alien” may not be coming directly from Abrams mouth but let’s run with it as if it’s confirmed. If the Super 8 monster is in fact an alien then it came from another world and somehow arrived here. There also could be a reason why it’s here and, much like E.T., could be interested in going home.
It also means the alien could have abilities we might construe as superpowers. Let’s take a closer look at the Super Bowl spot and see what it tells us about this critter (click on any of the screenshots for a larger look).
After the train crash we see the car carrying the alien with a U.S. Air Force logo on it. There could be significance to the Air Force transporting the alien from Area 51 as it may be able to either fly or was captured in some sort of ship.
I’m more interested in how the wheel on the car spins at an incredible speed *from the outside* and then pops off leaving a nub behind. The Air Force wouldn’t be foolish enough to put an opening mechanism on the inside so how did the alien get this wheel to spin? Can it move metal objects with its mind?
In another scene we see vintage 1970s cars with their headlights blinking on and off despite there being no passengers in them. The cars are also bobbing up and down by some unseen force. What’s causing the movement? Like the train car wheel there’s no earthly explanation for what’s going on.
So far we assume the alien has the ability to move objects with its mind and make car lights/electricity flicker. The electricity bit is further evidenced when a bright light causes local law enforcement officers on a break to look up in disbelief.
This frame from the spot baffles me. The military folks are all looking up and to the right when a blast seems to go through the window behind them from the left and inside the store. Either my mind is playing tricks on me and the shot really comes from the right or something very odd is taking place.
At first glance this still looks simple enough. A trio of kids are hauling ass across lawns as explosions and tank fire go off around them. Upon taking a closer look this scene makes little sense if there’s only one alien on the loose. In the upper center part of the frame is a tank firing a shell to the right. Yet just below that and to the left is what looks like a shell coming in from the right and exploding. Ordinance is being fired simultaneously at two different targets.
I can think of two possible explanations for this. First, the alien has some kind of built-in weaponry as a defense mechanism and that is the reason the town is on fire. That seems too simple. I’d like to think this alien has some sort of mind control ability and those shots from the right are coming from military vehicles under alien control. That would be a nice play off the film-within-a-film the kids are making about zombies which are essentially bodies under the control of something else.
It sounds fantastical but we’re dealing with the man who helped create ‘Lost.’ Do you really think he’s going to give us an alien that simply goes around destroying everything in sight?
Abrams has already said he’s being influenced by films like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. Both of those Spielberg classics added a twist to alien encounters; one trying to make contact and the other trying to get home.
Looking back at the Boucher interview, Abrams talks about a father and a boy losing their mother and having to come together. If Abrams plays the “parallels” angle, we could be looking at an alien who is trying to reunite and escape with others of its kind. In this final trailer shot before the title sequence, something very unexpected like the arrival of an alien craft could be occurring which our young star is possibly capturing on his Super 8 as the finale to his film.
For kicks, here’s another look at the title sequence still that shows what could be the alien’s lower jaw. If this is the jaw then we can check off “sharp teeth” on our list.
I now open the floor to all of you. What observations have you made about Super 8 based on the Super Bowl TV spot? Chime in with your thoughts in the comments section below.