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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Super 8

Kid stars of J.J. Abrams' 'Super 8' excited to be on the cusp of fame [Video]

April 2, 2011 | 10:12 pm

When new footage from J.J. Abrams' hush-hush summer release "Super 8" was unveiled at Las Vegas' CinemaCon this week, many were surprised by the prominent role that half a dozen formerly unknown kid actors play in the film.

The director said he chose the novice cast -- led by newcomer Joel Courtney -- largely because he wanted them to look like authentic kids.

Indeed, at the Kids' Choice Awards on Saturday, the group of young boys seemed to be just that. They spoke excitedly about working with Abrams and shook their heads enthusiastically when asked if they'd become close friends off-set.

"He's like a kid at heart," the diminutive Ryan Lee said of the director. "I mean, he cracks jokes all the time. He knows as soon as we get overworked, he's gonna make us feel better by just, like, being a kid."

To make the movie, Lee said, he and a number of the other child actors -- many of whom had never before been in a film -- had to be home-schooled because their "schools wouldn't cooperate."

"But it's a sacrifice worth making," he added.

Asked if they expect their lives to change after the release of the much-anticipated summer film, cast member Riley Griffiths had this to say:

"I'm not gonna say I'm not gonna enjoy the ladies," he grinned.


Arrival photos from the Kids' Choice Awards

Best and Worst of the 2011 Kids' Choice Awards

Kids' Choice Awards: Selena Gomez says next film role marks 'crucial turning point' in her career [Video]

--Amy Kaufman


Which Super Bowl movie commercial had the most impact? [poll and video]

February 7, 2011 |  1:29 pm

An online consensus seems to have formed around several spots that aired during Fox's telecast of the Super Bowl on Sunday: Bridgestone's "Reply All," Chrysler's "Imported From Detroit" and Volkswagen's "The Force" were deemed the best of the bunch.

But movie ads had their own parallel contest -- think of it as the Puppy Bowl to the Super Bowl -- with roughly a dozen commercials for upcoming films. Which ones did the best job of enticing viewers? The "E.T." stylings of the "Super 8" teaser? The strangely low-key ad for "Transformers: Dark of the Moon"? The whimsy of "Rango"?

Refresh your memories with the commercials below, then vote in our poll.

--Steven Zeitchik





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Is J.J. Abrams' 'Super 8' this summer's 'District 9'?

February 7, 2011 | 11:31 am

A Super Bowl commercial let the cat out of the bag (the monster out of the train?) for J.J. Abrams' "Super 8."   But the big-game spot was only a small piece of the puzzle. The filmmaker behind the highly anticipated science fiction release opened up further to my colleague Geoff Boucher.

In an item posted on our sister blog, Hero Complex, the writer-director described the plot for "Super 8," for which an earlier teaser hinted at a monster escaping from a train in 1979: "[I]t’s an adventure about a small town and it’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s scary and there’s a mystery: What is this thing that has escaped? What are the ramifications of its presence? And what is the effect on people?"

Abrams had been toying with a different film about a similar set of characters -- a widower father and his son --  but as he began putting it together he realized it made more sense to combine it with a separate idea he'd recently sold to Paramount, about Area 51 and a train of classified material that never made it to its destination.

Abrams did, however, want to keep the emotional elements that animate films such as "E.T." (Steven Spielberg is a producer on "Super 8"). "This is a movie about overcoming loss and finding your way again and finding your own voice,” Abrams said. “A boy who’s lost his mother and the man who’s lost his wife. There’s this father who, because of the era, never really had to be the parent."

The director does worry that the lack of an established brand could dim the summer pic's prospects.  ”We have such a challenge on this movie,” Abrams said, adding that "we’ve got no famous superhero, we’ve got no preexisting franchise or sequel, it’s not starring anyone you’ve heard of  before."

Of course a novel concept and a director name has managed to turn a science-fiction film into a hit each of the past two summers: the Peter Jackson-godfathered "District 9" and Christopher Nolan's "Inception." Abrams may not have much to worry about.

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: J.J. Abrams. Credit: Tracey Nearmy / EPA


Hero Complex: J.J. Abrams reveals the secrets of 'Super 8'




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