A friend of mine recommended this movie and suggested I write a review about it...so there I was last night in a nearly empty theatre with a bunch of my buddies waiting for Chronicle to start. I've read a few reviews on the film before watching it and people either loved it for what it is or found it lame. Here's what I thought.
For those who don't know much about the movie, the story centers around 3 teenagers who happen to stumble upon a blue glowing giant meteor and gain super powers from it. The whole film is shot with a "found footage" method, meaning its shot in a documentary type style with a handheld camera, think of movies like, Cloverfield, Catfish, Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project. So it's safe to say, if you are not fan of that type of filmmaking, this movie might not be for you but having said that, I personally think that Chronicle does it in a pretty creative way that makes it different from the other films I've listed above especially since its a film about superheroes and superpowers. If I had to choose, I'd say this film is much more like Cloverfield in the sense its using found footage containing alot of action sequences where as other films are usually portrayed like a reality TV series or a documentary film.
The three main characters include: the main camera man of the film, Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHann), Matt Garetty (Alex Russell) and Steve Montgomery (Michael B. Jordan, best known as the QB for East Dillon in Friday Night Lights). Andrew is a very emotionally disturbed individual, who is the victim of insulting jokes, school bullies and a drunk abusive father. Andrew's cousin, Matt is a level headed all around cool, nice guy of the group. And Steve is the funny, popular teen who's running for school president. The three teens all gain super powers from the aforementioned meteor, giving them telekentic abilities, super human strength and the ability to fly—all while giving the 3 of them a special bond and connection with one another. The three start off using their powers as practical jokes which include alot of laugh out loud moments in a American Pie-esqe manner but to no one surprises, it soon gets them into alot of serious trouble, all self inflicted—mainly by Andrew.
It takes awhile to get use to the camera style because throughout most of the film, its told through the eyes of Andrew who's basically a newbie cameraman, meaning there's alot of hand shakiness but as the film progresses, (much like his superpowers and camera skills) the camerawork becomes more and more smoother and we also start to see the film told through other different cameras as well. I was pretty impressed with all the flying sequences because I don't think I've seen anything from the eyes of the "flyer" to this degree. Alot of very visually satisfying shots, great action sequences and like I said, alot of funny moments.
The story itself is a pretty simple one; teens get superpowers, teens have fun with superpowers, teens get into trouble with superpowers. Having said that, director Josh Trank does a great job in really capturing the teens being overwhelmed with their superpowers and showing them transform those powers from pranks to life-threatening situations. I mean, what else would teens really do with superpowers? They'd be teenagers and use them for cheap thrills and laughs. I found myself being able to relate to alot of the characters because if I were to have superpowers, I think me and my friends would be doing alot of the same things; playing pranks on one another, using the powers to be elite beer pong players, impressing girls with magic tricks and how awesome would it be to have a nice match of good ol flying football? And even with all the comedic moments, Trank manages to also balance it out with alot of serious family dramas and intense dark situations. I also really enjoyed the fact that, it wasn't just a typical superhero movie where all the superheroes have a predictable "kryptonite" weakness—the nosebleeds that occur when the teens overexert their power was done in a very clever way and best described by the scene in the movie when Matt says, "Our superpowers are like a elastic band, when stretched too far, it'll snap."
As I left the theatre with my friends, we had a post movie discussion on Chronicle and to my surprise none of them enjoyed it except me. Much like the reviews I read, they thought the story was lame and none of them are big fans of the found footage style of storytelling. I can't call myself a fan of found footage movies either but oddly enough, one of the reasons why I enjoyed the film was because it was shot this way. We've never seen a superhero movie told like this before and I thought Trank did it in a very creative way and it especially works with today's youTube generation. Had this film been shot in a traditional way, I don't think I would've liked it—it would probably be as lame as I am Number 4, a superhero movie geared towards the same generation but lacks substance or originality. Chronicle is far from perfect, and probably good for a one time viewing only but I think it should be praised for its originality, it'a humour and its attempt to make a unique superhero movie (with an obvious low budget) for today's generation who are only use to seeing high budget, all star packed, blockbuster superhero flicks (like two of this years highly anticipated movies: The Avengers and The Amazing Spider-Man).
Chronicle is playing in theatres now
TV Samurai Score: 3.5 Samurai Stars out of 5