Feb 6, 2012

[Movies] Chronicle (2012)

The initial buzz behind this particular movie had been surprisingly good and that definitely got me curious enough o watch to see it. Although I knew little about the actual movie other than that it was a teen superhero flick with a somewhat alternative spin to things. Alternative is a rather generous term to use and it can mean any number of things. Some of the good and some of them pretty bad, especially with the creative team behind the movie tries too hard to be different.

So one Saturday while with my other boyfriend Prince, we found ourselves needing to kill time at the mall while his dog waited his turn at the groomers. The idea of seeing a movie came up and one thing led to another. So we went to see Chronicle. And to keep things sort of even, Tobie watched it too, albeit at a different theater.

I walked out of there with rather mixed feelings about the movie. Like any piece there were certainly a lot of good and bad points about how it was executed. It's really just a question of how things ultimately balance out and where things fall after that. I've tried reading a few other movie reviews for comparison and I don' always see eye-to-eye with the opinions expressed. So I guess it just boils down to me to come up with a final assessment for the purpose of this review.


Chronicle is a 2012 science fiction piece with heavy dramatic elements and of course some action thrown in too. It was directed by Josh Trank based on a screenplay by Max Landis. Both Trank and Landis had worked on the core story.

We start with troubled teenager Andrew (Dane DeHaan) who is your somewhat typical social outcast at his high school. He's regularly bullied and has no real friends apart from his cousin Matt (Alex Russell), who seems to only just barely tolerate him. Andrew decides to start video documenting his life with an old camera that he had purchased, especially given the violent spells his alcoholic father (Michael Kelly) gets into periodically.

Autumn 2005 in Vienna. Berlin's Ellen Allien m...
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One night, Matt drags Andrew to a local rave party at some abandoned farm structure. And while not expecting much, Andrew goes along with his camera in tow for the heck of it. Amid all the craziness at the party, Steve (Michael B. Jordan), one of the more popular kids at their high school and a friend of Matt's, approaches him asking him to bring his camera to record something that they had found nearby. This turns out to be a mysterious hole in the ground that appears to be creating a strange noise. The three eventually enter the cave and things change for the trio beyond that point as the three later find that they all have developed telekinetic abilities after the incident.

Now the movie sort of follows the "found footage" kind of movie making style popularized by movies like The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield. Now the initial element of Andrew recording almost everything with his camera sort of felt like a way to cheat thing, but then it also gave the movie a certain degree of intimacy between the audience and this character. After all, here's one lonely kid who can't seem to catch a break until he develops these superhuman mental abilities. And later on the movie does expand its scope to include other cameras in the area like traffic monitors and security cameras that help add to the whole third party observer feel to things. The only challenge is probably with the pacing of the story since it starts out pretty slow as we follow Andrew around and things don't start to accelerate to a more acceptable clip until much later in the movie.

The decision to have teens develop these abilities was not a light one. It heavily influenced how the story progressed and what the characters would reasonably do. I mean come on, a group of high school boys develop superpowers - their first instinct isn't going to be about saving the world from evil. They're just going to muck around with their powers, play a few pranks and see how they can get their way with these new abilities. And that's precisely the aspect to things that the movie tries to explore in detail a we watch these three teens gain greater and greater proficiency with their powers.

The actual implementation of the powers on screen is pretty cool, I'll have to admit. From assembling LEGO formations to eventually flying, the special effects team did a pretty decent job for the most part. Sure, the scenes where they're just hanging around in the air talking reek of excessive use of harnesses, but for the most part that's fairly forgivable. Otherwise, things are implemented rather well with a lot of the action looking pretty smooth, albeit with the added benefit of being from the perspective of a handheld camera.

The movie does end up with a bit of an Akira-style vibe at the end. Then again, you have a socially awkward teen and his cousin acting as the brother role and the added bonus of superhuman abilities and I suppose the comparisons are inevitable. I wouldn't be surprised if the filmmakers really wanted to make a nod in this direction with the final confrontation. There was just too much of that kind of a story involved NOT to at least attempt a bit of a homage, I'm sure.

Chronicle is a good take on the whole "superhero" genre by keeping things very real and yet still nicely fantastical. The movie really does play out like a science fiction drama instead of a action-filled superhero piece, which I felt was a very good direction for the movie to take. In the end, the movie rates a respectable 3.5 crazy stunts the three attempt to test out their powers out of a possible 5.





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2 comments:

Ronald S. Lim said...

The director has actually said that they really meant to pay an homage to Akira, as it is one of his favorite films. There's an article on io9.com about it.

Geeky Guide said...

Well there you go, haha!
My efforts to avoid spoilers tends to lead to me avoiding all behind the scenes interviews as well.

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