“When Abrams produced the 2008 disaster flick “Cloverfield,” which was based on his own idea, he and his collaborators took the mystery-box approach further. Not only were the dimensions and nature of whatever entity was laying waste to Manhattan kept hidden at first from the fleeing protagonists, but the marketing campaign for the movie itself was all evasion and obfuscation. There was the opaque title, “Cloverfield,” which hardly sounded spooky. The trailer showed the severed head of the Statue of Liberty rocketing down a city street, but no sign of the severer.
Now comes another mystery box, “Super 8,” which opens in movie theaters on June 10. It’s one of the summer’s most closely watched releases, in part because it bucks the season’s tide by trying to turn a tale that’s not a sequel or a superhero vehicle into a major event, and in part because it’s the culmination of an odd, amusing history between Abrams, who is 44, and one of his lifelong idols, Steven Spielberg, 64. Spielberg produced “Super 8,” which Abrams directed. He has been the director of two previous movies — “Mission: Impossible III” and the recent, wildly successful reboot of the “Star Trek” franchise — but this is the first one to showcase wholly original material, and it’s the first directorial effort for which he alone wrote the script. It’s also his most personal project to date. The setting is the late 1970s, when he was a teenager. And the main characters are adolescents who are consumed, as he was then, with shooting amateur 8-millimeter, or Super 8, films.”