Hollywood turns to history

What do you associate with summer blockbuster movies? Non-stop action, special effects, superhero exploits? Probably. But it’s fair to say that nostalgia and a sense of history wouldn’t be high on anyone’s list.

Which makes this summer’s crop of “tentpole” films somewhat unusual. None of them would quite qualify as sepia-tinted; yet at least four significant titles cast one eye back to a bygone age.

The most notable example is Super 8 (opening August 5), set in 1979 in a small Ohio town, where a group of preteens are making their own short movie, a zombie flick with masses of fake blood. Shooting at night, they watch a freight train passing through town; it’s derailed, and then explodes spectacularly. As witnesses, they find themselves being pursued by sinister adults, possibly from the military, eager to question them about the incident.

Shades of E.T. there, of course – and it’s no surprise to learn that Steven Spielberg is its producer. But its prime mover is its writer-director JJ Abrams, the man who created Lost and breathed new life into the ailing Star Trek franchise....

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