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‘Super 8’: Feature filmed in West Virginia building buzz

By Staff | Mar 30, 2011

Unfortunately, I was not one of the lucky group who received an invitation from Paramount Pictures to a New York City’s Walter Reade Theatre in Lincoln Center.

What those journalists viewed were about 20 minutes from “Super 8,” the J.J. Abrams directed film that offers homage to Steven Spielberg.

Abrams told them, “I want this to be a secret.” Call this a spoiler alert from one who’s “researching” the celluloid that passed before the eyes of others. However, I’m going to be very fleeting with those specifics. You can surf to find them.

According to another viewer, Abrams “charmed the pants off everyone” and told how “Super 8” was “initially the fusion of two separate ideas — an autobiographical film about kids in the 70s making super 8 movies and a sci-fi film about a train that crashes in Ohio on its way to Area 51.

FYI: JJ Abrams and Matt (“Cloverfield“) Reeves won a film festival in their teens and mega-producer Kathleen Kennedy asked them to repair and restore old Spielberg super 8 films. That’s why , personally, I’m really thinking that Abrams pint-sized filmmaker at the depot is an incarnation of none other than Spielberg himself.

Those of us who have reported on the Weirton shoot know that its set in the late 1970s and begins with a “monster” train crash. The train wreck occurs while several teens are rolling their super 8mm camera making their own zombie movie at the town depot. While rehearsing the movie, the train explosion occurs. (That’s a given; you’ve seen the trailer at the multiplex.)

Ironically, the train produces huge fireballs of reportedly “nonsensically long” images of cars flying through the air. Purists, though, will note that blowing up things were not a huge part of Spielberg flicks.

More than one writer who viewed the footage has continued the “E.T.” nuances. The New York Magazine writer states that lead, Joel Courtney, “with big limpid eyes” looks “remarkably like E.T.’s Henry Thomas.

“Super 8 seems concerned with feelings as it does with aliens; it’s as much of a coming of age film as a monster movie,” wrote Willa Paskin.

Katie Hasty noted that Abrams issued quite a few disclaimers — the clips were incomplete, special effects, sound mixing and other editing awaited. Again, Ms. Hasty states “we’ve been encouraged not to talk about it.

The second clip appeared to come from the closed Weirton gas station where the attendant listened to Blondie tracks as a creature marauded the small town.

Benny Gammerman, writing for Ology.com gave his impressions, too: “I can’t divulge plot specifics, but what I can divulge is WOW. The footage was awe-inspiring, funny and touching… everything classic Amblin stands for.

Ms. Hasty complimented the Mountain State’s thespians: “Casting of these teens wasn’t culled from preened Hollywood kids, but newcomers who had never been on a set to embody what it is to be that age in a dusty do-nothing Ohio town.

Her mini-review: “‘Super 8’ feels like a genuine mystery is afoot and taking the audience back to their movie innocent days. .. the style is super colorful even during a scene shot in a drab bar.

Now, we know the film debuts on June 10. What some of curious and eager writers and fans in West Virginia want to know is — will there be a “pre-premiere” of “Super 8“, say, in Wheeling or Charleston, like Warner Brothers did with “We Are Marshall?” Come to think of it, Warners and director McG donated proceeds for renovation on the Keith Albee. Wheeling’s Capitol Theatre would be an excellent choice for both a venue and donation.