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Josh Trank's "Chronicle" comes at a time where "found footage" movies
are all too common and gimmicky. Hot on the heels of "The Blair Witch
Project", "Cloverfield" and "Paranormal Activity" (all of which are
scary films), big movie studios are wringing this concept dry in order
to save huge costs and make millions worldwide. Of course, the public
soon grew tired of the "fake documentary" style and excessive
"realistic" shaky camera as a result.
"Chronicle" isn't a horror movie, however. I'd like to think of it as a superhero origin film without the usual glorified stuff, sort of like M. Night Shyamalan's "Unbreakable" but with more youthful angst. At first glance it could be called a comedy, and soon after the midpoint that's where things go dark. After a mysterious discovery three teens suddenly develop superpowers which they decide to use for fun. You got Andrew the anti-social loner who constantly faces sh*t every day at home and at high school, his cousin Matt who uses philosophy to justify his own loneliness, and the popular and well to do high school jock Steve who wants to help Andrew get lucky. All three use their powers for pranks and flying and other fun stuff (if one of them was Peter Parker, Uncle Ben would be rolling in his grave) until Andrew accidentally injures someone with his powers out of anger. Youthful rage, indeed. Telekinesis is no worse than a gun or a knife when placed in the wrong, and especially angry, hands.
From these three main characters the foundation is set for character development and conflict. The home footage, like all "found footage" films, definitely gives the dramatic scenes some punch, specifically with Andrew the unlucky one. The film is mostly seen from his point of view so we understand his motive as his new-found powers being to chip away his withdrawn exterior and he begins to lash out at everyone who opposes him. It is villainous, but it isn't evil, it's just tragic. Brian De Palma's "Carrie" comes to mind, except less bloody and on a more destructive scale (still around the PG-13 limit). The audience is treated to a ticking time bomb of a character while the other two try to reason with him, inevitably leading to a violent and tragic confrontation. A real hero and villain face-off.
Trank and fellow writer Max Landis (son of fellow filmmaker John Landis) succeeded with the character development here, we are not so intimidated by Andrew as we do feeling sympathetic for him. The writers do not care about the origins of their powers as they do with the emotional effects it will have on the three characters. Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell and Michael B. Jordan, the three main actors, are all new to me, but they give very convincing and entertaining performances, especially DeHaan who looks like he can have a rich career ahead of him.
Trank directs the film briskly and confidently. The editing doesn't feel forced, and the various camera formats (home video, CCTV) spliced together gives a raw atmosphere throughout the film (a staple of "found footage" films) which makes for a more interesting and exciting watch, specifically during the climax where Seattle comes under attack by Andrew's rage in scenes reminiscent of Katushiro Otomo's "Akira" (I doubt Jaume Collet-Serra will be as good as Trank in making his remake as engaging as this scene alone).
The special effects crew, given the budget, manage to make the destruction and the mayhem feel threatening and not just exciting. The camera work was nicely done as well as it wasn't as aggressively shaky as expected from this type of film, we even manage to view the action in its fury during the climax. It's clear Trank wasn't going for the "woah" feeling and instead was aiming for the gut. Not bad for a first feature film.
Despite some clichéd moments and a few plot holes, "Chronicle" stands on its own right as simply a solid, good film, not just a light surprise in the "found footage" department. It is a real movie, with interesting, fleshed out characters and a coherent, fluid story structure, instead of being just another "remnant of whatever happened". I wouldn't mind seeing it a second time, but I'll probably wait for the DVD/Blu-ray rental. Oh, and I hope those teens who watch this movie will at least stop bullying whoever they are bullying. They'll never know until its too late. Poor Andrew.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
With Chronicle I've finally had to accept that no matter how good a
movie is, I can't really enjoy it if it makes me physically ill.
Whenever I try to watch one of these hand-held video, "found footage"
flicks in the theater, I can only make it about 40 minutes in before
the all the camera movement gives me a headache and light nausea. Which
is frustrating in this case because this film is not just a good
example of its particular genre of storytelling, it's a pretty good
story by any standard. But just as it wound up to its emotional climax,
I couldn't really get into it because I was trying to avoid climaxing
my lunch onto the theater floor. So, if you're like me and prone to
motion sickness from this kind of thing, you'll have the same problem.
If you're free of that particular weakness, you might enjoy this motion
picture a whole lot.
On the surface, Chronicle is about three high school kids who crawl down into a hole one right and find something that gives them the power of mind over matter. When you look a little closer, though, it's actually a super-hero story. Except instead of focusing on a hero who learns "with great power comes great responsibility", this is all about the origin of the super-villain and what the hero learns is that the responsible thing is to NOT dress up in a costume and try to fight crime.
The budding bad guy is Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan), an introverted high school loser with a dying mother and an abusive father. His cousin Matt Garetty (Alex Russell) is the sort of loner who thinks himself above the teenage experience and reads philosophy books to validate that feeling. The third, but in no way inessential, wheel is Steve Montgomery (Michael B. Jordan), the hot shot class president who's so normal, happy and well adjusted he doesn't have the slightest clue what to do with his power or the ambition to figure it out. The "found footage" of the story comes from the camera Andrew constantly keeps with him, though his eventual use of his power to manipulate the camera without touching it does give Chronicle a look that's quite different that other movies of this type. Now, you can't explain or rationalize any of it as some sort of documentary made from video recovered after events occurred, but it seems that convention of the genre is being dispensed with more and more as time goes on. I suppose that's good for the long term heath of the genre, but it's going to allow increasing implausible and hard to swallow storytelling.
While there's a subplot involving Matt and a pretty young blogger (Ashley Hinshaw), the heart of this film is watching the moral disintegration that comes when you give incredible power to someone with the inner demons from a lifetime of social isolation and parental abuse. The lesson being that an unhappy person who becomes powerful doesn't become happy. They just get the ability to act out on their misery. And it is in that dynamic that the character of Steve is so important to the movie. While Andrew is a high school reject, Steve is the most popular guy in class and Chronicle embraces the reality that popular kids like Steve usually aren't douches or jerks. That's a stereotype propagated by writers, who were often the uncool kids in their class. Popular high school students are often no better or worse than anyone else, they're just more outgoing and socially capable than their geeky, withdrawn classmates. While the main relationship in the story is between Andrew and Matt, Steve is the lightning rod for Andrew's transformation into a bad guy and provides a moral clarity and structure to Andrew's predatory evolution.
If you put Chronicle into the alternative super-hero genre, this is one of the best ones that's been made to date. If you classify it as a "found footage" flick, I'd only put it behind the verisimilitude of The Blair Witch Project and the inspired filmmaking of Video X. You should definitely watch it that is, if you can keep a clear head and a calm stomach.
This is the worst film I have seen in ages. The premise looked promising but the film they made was just so unbelievably bad. If you think you'd like nearly 2 hours of extra-shaky hand-cam footage, spectacularly annoying idiots yelling at each other, and repetitive special effects with lots of stuff breaking, then this is the film for you. The three main characters are dumb beyond belief and it's impossible to sympathize with any of them. There is no explanation as to how the super powers came about and the characters don't spend one moment thinking about how they could change their lives or anyone else's lives for the better. They just do a bunch of dumb things and then they do a bunch of even dumber things. Do yourself a favour and watch anything else. I cannot believe how high the ratings are for this piece of garbage!
I believe this movie is overvalued, specially after the "Super8". I saw so much similarities, in the way the movie was presented, and the performance of the actors, everything. At the end of the movie, I was like "What is this?" This movie had a 7,5 rating?? The same feeling on Super 8 (7,2) :( I mean, when a movie like Fracture, with Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Goslig was valued with 7,1 or Shame with a 7,9 - I see 7,5 in Chronicle and I say "Hell yeah, time to go to cinema" :-S I was disappointed with the movie. I would give a 6,5 maximum. We should be careful about this good reviews or overvalued movies - I went with good expectations and I felt worse when the movie ended than if I just haven't had seen the reviews... Maybe sometimes when you feel doubtful about a rating to a movie, whether to give a 6,5 or a 6,7, we should give a 6,5. P.s. (I'm not a professional, I'm just a cinema lover and therefore to me cinema is a hobby :P my profession it's university)
Chronicle is a film about three high school boys who, after
encountering a mysterious glowing object, develop the ability to move
objects around them using only their minds. For a while, they test out
their discovery, experimenting and pranking as boys tend to do; soon
enough, the movie takes on a darker twist when the boys realize that if
gone unchecked, their powers could be fatally dangerous.
The film is shot somewhat in the same handy-cam-found-footage style of movies like The Blair Witch Project, The Troll Hunter, Paranormal Activity, and Cloverfield. Fortunately, there isn't a lot of the shake-so-much-I-feel-sick sort of work there is a little, but as the videographer (main character Andrew) improves his skill, the shots also steadily improve.
Some have noted that this is a "superhero origins" film, but I cannot say that, knowing it would share a bed with so many Marvel-based films Chronicle is in a different league. Chronicle is a well-written, well thought out film, unlike the bulk of the superhero genre. The main characters progress very believably throughout the film, carrying their opening identity from beginning to end, and the actors, in my opinion, did a very good job of portraying the emotion their characters were struggling with, layering their socio-psychological issues deep into the mind of the audience.
And that's what set this film apart, for me I couldn't just sit idly through it. Perhaps it was because I found myself identifying with the main character(s) so much but isn't' that the mark of a great film?
Do not go into this movie expecting a feel-good, happy ending film. Do not go into this movie expecting to encounter superhuman philanthropists. Do not go into this movie expecting Hollywood-ized high school kids.
Go into this film expecting to see a deep struggle between self-worth and unbridled possibility, digging into the bowels of pain and fear experienced through the digital eye of a normal high-school outcast upon whom power and responsibility are suddenly burdened. I really think that is what this film is about.
First off bravo to Josh Trank and Mark Landis, this movie really hits a
home-run. The story of this movie really shows and tells about a
problem that is actually on the rise today such as the tragic Columbine
shooting. Being a highschool student myself, popularity and the
pressures to fit in definitely has a toll on teens. Dane DeHaan did an
outstanding job as Andrew Detmer, really showing the struggles of a
neglected highschool teen, abused by his alcoholic father, and trying
to help his dying mother. Alex Russell and Michael B. Jordan also did
an excellent job playing the roles Matt Garetty and Steve Montgomery.
I have never really liked the first person camera perspective, but this movie really did a good job with it. And once Andrew starts to float the camera around to include himself in the recordings that made the perspective even cooler. I'm not going to spoil it for anyone who has not watched the movie, but this is definitely a must-watch. Story, actors, plot, effects, and technicality are fantastic.
The whole video camera has been done to death, The Blair Witch Project,
Cloverfield, and the cinematic travesty known as Apollo 18. Going into
Chronicle, I was had my doubts. But I was very surprised, Chronicle did
the whole video camera quite well.
Social outcast Andrew(Dane Dehaan) his cousin Matt(Alex O'Russell) and his friend Steve(Michael B. Jordan) one night while at a party, find a hole in the wilderness, they go in it, and find a mysterious glowing thing, they get close to it, and the next they all discover, they all have super powers. They all decide to have fun with it. But what happens when they grow too strong with it?
Chronicle met my expectations, I really liked all three main characters, the actors where all memorable, I liked Dane Dehaan, and Alex O' Russell, and Michael B. Jordan, I really liked the Steve character, cause it was nice to see a popular kid, who was not a jerk for once. It had awesome special effects, which was probably not easy, trying to be told through the point of view from a video camera. Chronicle is like a Twilight Zone episode, it blends science fiction, and some elements of reality.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie was a real shot in the dark for me,before watching it i had
no idea what to expect from it,i never saw any of the trailers,had no
idea whats it about and who the actors were,a friend just called me and
said that he is going to see this movie and asked me for company.You
can probably already tell that my expectations were low and they
were,but in the end i was really surprised at how good it turned out.
At first the movie may seem like one of those "superhero in the making" movies:Three kids gain superpowers,its all fun and games in the beginning and you just expect something bad to happen to the city so our heroes can save it and become a crime fighting trio!Thank god that doesn't happen,instead around halfway into the movie you realise its actually more like a "suppervilain in the making" type of film in the face of Andrew,but no matter what he does you still manage to feel sorry for the character because you know how his life is and what he is going through.The ending was pretty strong and i actually felt sorry for Matt because of the decision he had to make.
One of the minor annoyances in the film for me was the lack of explanation for why is he filming,when someone asks him about that he just says "Because i want to" or something like that.As much as i like the found footage genre i think this movie would have been better without it,but thats only my opinion.
In general for a guy who didn't expect much and didn't know much(if anything) about the movie i was really surprised.Great work from the three young actors who actually made me care about their characters,good looking effects and a good story.
This film is a good film. I was bored some parts of the concept. Like a
book, you can't judge it by it's cover. With a movie, don't judge it by
it's trailer, and I fell for that... a little. The trailer looks good,
and after all, these teenage boys did great acting, but what mattered
was the story. Besides the acting, all powers were cool, but I still
think it's a 7, If you read this review, don't fall for others. The
movie was good, not bad, not great.
After all, Chronicle was a folded piece of paper with good, not amazing, but definitely not bad drawings on it. I hoped you people like this review.
This has to be one of the most stunning science fiction films I've watched in a while (not since Donnie Darko) and one of the best commentaries regarding pacifism and the abuse of power that has surely been made. The abuse of the vulnerable is not always handled very sympathetically, but in this case the total transformation it causes is seamless and one finds oneself egging them on for vengeance in the first instance and saying 'oh no, don't do that' in the next. There is plenty left unexplained and to think about afterward, which is often the downfall of some stories. The references to previous science fiction films are endless, but handled in a completely unique way and the special effects don't ever get in the way. Nice one Josh.
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