Bryant Dillon, Fanboy Comics: Well, things are heating up for Steven Spielberg, with the release of a teaser trailer for Spielberg’s and Peter Jackson’s The Adventures of Tintin, the release of a full trailer for Spielberg’s time-traveling television series for FOX, Terra Nova, and the release of four preview clips from the mysterious Spielberg/Abrams Super 8 film, all happening within the last week. You can find these clips many places on the internet, but ours came from the excellent geek websites of GeekTyrant.com and Scificool.com.
Fortunately for our listeners, we have the extreme pleasure of speaking today with Fanboy Comics’ very own Resident Steven Spielberg Specialist, Ani Pandit. Ani, thanks for taking off the Indy fedora, getting the dinos back in their cages, and telling E.T. you'll phone him later, so that you could chat with us today!
Ani Pandit: My pleasure, Bryant.
BD: So, obviously we had this surge of Spielberg preview clips coming out this week covering The Adventures of Tintin, Terra Nova, and Super 8. Can you just give us a basic take on each?
AP: Sure. I mean, it is a lot in one week. I was excited to see all three of them. I think Super 8 remains the project that I’m most interested in seeing. I was a little [inaudible] with the actual clips that they released this week. [inaudible] I was a little confused, more than anything, of why they’d [inaudible]. Tintin looks fantastic, as well. I think I have a sort of longstanding - I don’t know - I haven’t been won over with motion capture.
AP: But, there’s a lot in there that got me excited. I think the lowest was probably Terra Nova. You know, just a written concept alone having Spielberg get back into dinosaurs. Maybe mildly excited, but actually seeing the trailer there made me sort of very nervous or almost not excited to see the show at all.
BD: Now that’s a little bit interesting, just because I know personally, you’re a very big Jurassic Park fan, so, if you’re nervous, that might be a sign about something.
AP: Yeah, Jurassic Park, I think, is one of the, if not the favorite movie of mine, so you can imagine seeing Spielberg and dinosaurs is going to make me very, very excited, but I think that watching the trailer, I didn’t get anything out of it. I mean, if you ask yourself what is the show about in terms of themes, you can’t really pick up anything at all. You know, you could maybe say it’s about sort of family, but what really comes out of it is there’s a very base conflict of a family trying to protect itself against the wilderness. And, everything present in it, the dinosaurs and the creatures and the general environment, seems to be a story device. It seems to me like just an obstacle. There isn’t really any character or wonder or anything given to the environment or dinosaurs.
BD: Right, right. So, just barely the base limit of they have to keep you interested. Hey, there’s dinosaurs here! Right at the end! Ok, you want to see this show!
AP: Yeah, exactly. I mean, it could be anything, right? It could’ve been a big robot or it could’ve been, you know, alien creatures. Something charging at someone with a gun and that’s about it. Even sort of there at the end, there’s a shot of three brachiosaurs or something with the kids are looking up to and there’s absolutely no wonder or mystery or anything to it. And, I think it was beyond that. Ignore the dinosaur aspect. I just really can’t pinpoint what’s really going to be in that show besides some general action of them trying to survive.
BD: Fair. Alright, now that we’ve covered Terra Nova and what you think of that, let me ask you this. Given that you are FBC's Resident Steven Spielberg Specialist, are there are any trademark Spielbergisms that you could point out from any of these three projects or what we’ve seen of them this week?
AP: Yes. I think, ironically, one of the most Spielbergian projects I’ve seen is Super 8, which he didn’t direct. Even more so than Tintin, I think. A few things I always look for in Spielberg’s style, which I always admire within the camera work, a few things I see in Super 8. I think, one, it’s interesting that if you look at a lot of the action sequences, and by action sequences I don’t just mean these sort of high intensity explosions and what not, but just the kids setting up the camera, the kids filming the scenes, the cop investigating, etc. or anything that is just general action oriented, you’ll see, a lot of times, these sort of wide shots over and over and over again that have tons of pieces of information in every part of the screen to just let the audience kind of look at whatever they want to look at. There’s something interesting in every part of the frame. I think a lot of people now a days don’t have that discipline and there’s just sort of, you know, extreme quick cuts put together to make a full scene rather then take the time to stage it.
AP: And, I think the second thing is, and I’m hoping Super 8 follows through on this, that the emotion is really, really led not by some of the bigger, more epic set pieces, but the scene is driven by close-ups of human faces. And that sounds cheesy, but it you look at the end of E.T., for example, with the space ship leaving, if you look at that scene again and just watch what portion of that scene is just close-ups of the faces of the kids with nothing else involved, I think it gives you an idea of how brilliantly he can sort of guide your emotion and make you feel at wonder with whatever is happening, regardless of the special effects. And, I see hints of that in Super 8, which I’m really excited to see more of.
BD: I have to agree slightly with you there, because, even though I don’t share as much of your excitement for Super 8, I’m still waiting to be somewhat convinced, but it does immediately have a feel of of a Spielberg film, which is amazing given that it’s not directed by him. You feel like you’re watching a trailer from those classic ‘80s films which he made, whether it’s Indiana Jones or, you know, even Goonies had somewhat of a feel like that to it, so I definitely see that present in Super 8.
AP: One thing that I’m hoping for is that it just doesn’t stay referential, this stylized. That it becomes something of its own.
BD: Yeah, I would agree with that. So, would you say that Super 8 is the one you think fans should be anticipating the most this summer?
AP: Yeah, I think so. Spielberg fans, if that’s what you’re asking. I don’t know. Tintin, the trailer didn’t disappoint me.
BD: Well, it’s a teaser, so you have to give it a less of a hard time than a full trailer, which we’re seeing more with Terra Nova.
AP: And, I just think it’s really well marketed. You know, it’s introducing a character to U.S. audiences that the rest of the world knows very well, so it has to accomplish a lot. It has to get [inaudible] back in the game, it has to sort of set the tone of what the adventure is going to be. It’s a difficult tone because there’s guns and hijinks, but it’s still animated and there’s a dog involved, so it is for kids. Is it for adults? You know, what exactly is it? I think they did a great job of just picking a very few key images that give you the tone automatically. There’s a lot of, sort of, dark images that they picked for the teaser and also, at the same time, I think one of my favorite images is the two guys behind the newspaper with the holes cut out for their eyes. That kind of gives you it’s not going to be just dark or adventure, there’s going to be sort of whimsy and visual play, as well.
BD: Yes, right.
AP: So, I think they did a great job in setting the tone, and I think John Williams’ score on the trailer is awesome as well, but I’m curious to see more of it before really deciding.
BD: Yeah, of course. So, finally and most importantly, tell Fanboy Comics’ listeners what, in your opinion, is waiting for us in that ominous boxcar with the banging coming from inside from Super 8. Is that a robot? An alien? Jaws? The actual shark. Is he in there? What's your guess?
AP: I don’t know. I know this should be this fun answer, but I’m trying not to guess and that’s actually not what I’m most excited about. Big deal with the anticipation. I think if I have to put my money somewhere, I’d maybe make it some type of alien creature. Maybe. But, frankly, it doesn’t matter as long as- what I’m hoping for is that it’s not just a story device and not just a monster. That it has some type of- that it’s a character in the movie. That’s what I’m hoping for, regardless of what it is.
BD: I have to agree with you. I hope it’s more than what we can just imagine, honestly. I hope it’s something a little bit more than just, oh, a monster, or a robot. I have to agree with you.
Alright, Ani, thank you so much for taking time to speak with us today. We know you're very busy and, until the next bit of Spielberg news drops from the heavens, it looks like it's time for you to get back to the grind and get a bigger boat, I imagine! Thanks, again!
AP: Thank for having me, Bryant.