It’s the summer of 1979 and a group of school friends are in the middle of making a Super 8 movie when they are confronted with an unscripted drama – a catastrophic, mind-blowing train crash they soon suspect was no accident.
Their small, once peaceful Ohio town is suddenly turned upside down with unusual appearances and inexplicable events. Without giving too much away regarding the highly-anticipated science-fiction thriller, directed by J.J. Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg, the cause of the turmoil is linked to the U.S. military.
Abrams made it clear to FOX411’s Pop Tarts that his intention was never to depict U.S. servicemen and women in a negative light.
“I tried to make it clear that the military, or the Air Force in particular, is not responsible for evil. This one colonel in particular is up to no good,” he told us while promoting "Super 8." "It’s not some blanket, overall military conspiracy. In working with Steven (Spielberg) on it, one of my issues was ‘is this going to feel too much like derivation of something he’s done before?’ He was very clear in saying ‘this is a convention of the genre.’ He didn’t create the idea of military in movies, especially with something otherworldly: the idea of some kind of conspiracy—what they know.”
Abrams says the movie, opening June 10, is more about humans finding their way into the unknown.
“It’s almost a human natural reaction to assume a purpose and fault, and by allowing the military to have knowledge that they are withholding and not sharing, it allows you to feel like there is someone to blame for what is going on,” he explained. “It’s more about that than it is the military actually giving the knowledge or the ability to have that knowledge.”
“It has changed radically since the days of WWII when Hollywood was literally the propaganda arm of the U.S. military. Today, when it suits their liberal political agenda, Hollywood is almost an enemy of our military,” said “Media Malpractice” filmmaker John Ziegler. “The biggest impact (the entertainment industry) has had on this generation is it has stripped away the aura of the U.S. soldier as the greatest force for good in the world. I am always in favor of the truth, but the problem here is that Hollywood has gone from only telling positive stories about our troops to almost exclusively doing negative ones. Neither way leaves a truthful impression, but the country certainly suffers more under the latter scenario than the former.”
Film critic and host of The Geek Actually movie-related podcast, David McVay, said "Super 8" is a reflection of the time period it's set in.
“In the late 70s and early 80s the military was often faceless bad guys. Add that to all the secrecy that surrounds Area 51 and I don’t think the film is having a go at the military, it’s just telling a story,” he said. “A lesson learned over the years of movies is that no matter who you use as the bad guys, you will offend someone. Indians lost their minds when ‘Temple of Doom’ came out, South Africans got mad when ‘Lethal Weapon 2’ came out and most of the Middle East gets mad when America releases any film about terrorism. If you want to be completely PC, you just can't have bad guys.”
But aspiring filmmakers shouldn't be afraid of public perception, Abrams said.
“Anyone who wants to make movies—young filmmakers—the beauty is that they can actually make the movies now. When I was a kid, it was expensive, it took a long time,” he said. “Today, there are video cameras with amazing quality that are usually accessible to you either in your pocket, because you have a decent phone, or friends or parents have cameras. My advice is make the movie. You don’t have to get the studio’s permission to make a movie. Your voice is as valid as anyone’s.”
And working with his own childhood idol, Steven Spielberg?
“He’s always been a hero of mine, and getting to work with him was just incredible. I was nervous, you work with your hero, it can go one of two ways, and it went the best possible way,” Abrams added. “It was a real privilege.”