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A great new entry into superpower mythos films
8/10 Chronicle is one of those films that kind of snuck up on everyone and may very well have slid under the radar if not for a somewhat dead weekend in February and good word of mouth. And it's rightfully earned. After last weeks fantastic The Grey, the new year continues to produce good film with one of the most interesting takes on the comic book film in a long time.4 years ago
Now, you might be tempted to blow this off as another low budget, shaky cam movie ala Paranormal Activity, but you'd be wrong. Firstly, this is a film that establishes it's lead "camera men" as experienced with a camera, so shaky cam is mostly gone from the film. We also have some other rather interesting excuses for better than average faux-doc filming, namely the main character's ability to levitate his camera around to get multiple angles. Suffice to say, the camera work is mostly good and legitimized so it never feels like it's too good. So, if you fear that this is just another poorly made hand-held excursion, fear not. This is a very well made hand-held excursion.
The story itself is nothing terribly new or original. A group of teens inexplicably get super powers from some weird, glowy crystals and that's about it. But where most stories about super powered people might find them fighting evil or exploring human nature, Chronicle takes it's time to show a more realistic approach. Our characters play pranks, gain popularity, and try to just have fun. Also realistic are how the powers come out in other forms, manifesting the inner turmoil of one troubled teen who becomes too powerful for his own good. Although the story may not be wholly original, the script is pretty good and the films take on both the hand-held film sub genre and the super powered sub genre is good. This is a more grounded look at what might happen should we find ourselves with power we can't understand. We don't get noble causes or some epic quest to save the world, we simply get teens who are being teens, albeit with telekinetic abilities. I read this film compared to Carrie, and it's somewhat accurate, only this is Carrie x5.
It helps that the leads do a great job in their respective roles. They seem naturals as the teens, and DeHann in particular is great as the troubled Andrew. We can see what's to come, but when his turn finally comes, most noticeably in a scene involving a spider, it's a frightening wake up call to the true nature of the forces at work here. There is some reality in this film, and it's frightening to think what some might do with that kind of power if given it. Even with that last bit of darkness at the end of the film, it's fun, and shown in a very intimate way. Being so up close and personal with the action is exhilarating and there are moments when the film even feels like a ride for a time. There are several good scenes displaying the use of the teens power, but the final 15 minutes are some of the most exciting, super powered moments of any film of it's kind. The fact that it feels more realistic than, say, something like Iron Man makes it feel that much more exciting. It's like watching a high school fight, but pushed to the 10th degree.
Suffice to say, Chronicle was a pleasant surprise. It's the kind of film you hope to walk into. As a fan of comic book films, it was especially pleasing as it really shakes the genre and tries, successfully I might add, to do something very different. It could have been a complete disaster with typical hand-held filming and a typical story. But the smart and creative take on the genre makes this another in the great beginning of 2012.
"Found footage" films have the tendency of being awful, predictable, and nothing but a cheap money grab; Chronicle, thankfully, is different.
8/10 Chronicle is a "found footage" film that is similar to Cloverfield, The Blair Witch Project, and - the infamous - Paranormal Activity series. Those kinds of films (mainly Paranormal Activity) have a tendency of being awful, predictable, and nothing but a cheap money grab; Chronicle ,thankfully, is different.4 years ago
Andrew (Dane DeHaan) is a high-school teenager who has decided to make videos of his life. Through these videos, we find out Andrew is a total outcast and doesn't have an easy life. Andrew's father is an abusive drunk, his mother is dieing of cancer, and his cousin, Matt (Alex Russell), barely tolerates him. One day, While Matt is driving Andrew back from school, Matt urges Andrew to go to a party with him. Matt then pleas Andrew not to bring his camera; Andrew doesn't listen. After being punched in the face by a drunk raver, "the footage" then cuts to Andrew sitting outside the party crying. Steve (Michael B. Jordan) walks up to Andrew and tells him that he and Matt have found something they want him to film. What they find is a huge hole. As Andrew is filming the hole, an odd sound is being produced from the inside. Steve, Matt, and Andrew both climb into down hole to see what is. What they find is ______________________________. Some time later, Andrew, Matt, and Steve are then shown that they've developed telekinetic powers (that's when the fun begins). Instead of using their powers to fight crime, the three - now friends - use their powers to play practical jokes on people. As their powers get better, so do the camera angles. Andrew is eventually able to levitate the camera anywhere imaginable as he's doing anything. It's pretty cool.
What amazes me about Chronicle is how well everything has been written. The writing is very well thought out and so are the three main characters. It's rare that you see this in any film. It's even rarer when you see this in a "found footage" film. I'd advise any writer that plans on writing anything about high-school teenagers to watch this film; These are how real high- schoolers act. They're not too immature, they're not too mature. They're teenagers. simple. That's one of the reasons why I love these characters, I can relate to them. Regardless of who you are, you can relate to at least one of the three main characters. As for the other two, you probably know/knew someone who had similar personality traits. It doesn't hurt either when the three form a strong friendship with one another. The first hour or so is a great bromance film
The effects are pretty good, for the most part, considering Chronicle is a low-budget thriller. Most of the effects are practical with uses of some green screen technology. The stunt that looked a little odd to me was the flying, but you get used to it after a while and accept it for what it is. Even though some of the effects looked a little awkward, I have no choice but to respect it, for the fact Chronicle didn't rely solely on CGI.
Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan give great, convincing performances. These characters feel real, so you have to give credit to the three main actors for making them come to life.
In case you can't already tell, I really enjoyed Chronicle, and I think anyone that likes superhero movies will too. Chronicle is the definition of a great "found footage" film. Chronicle is a fun, thrilling movie with simple, yet great dialogue that comes with a great story. Chronicle does a brilliant job at making you feel like you're part of the movie (I really felt like I was the fourth member of the crew), and that means something.
I give Chronicle a very enthusiastic 4 out of 5.
A shot in the arm for superhero origins
7/10 Ever since the breakout success of 1999's The Blair Witch Project, the found footage film has become a subgenre in its own right. In a similar vein to Blair Witch, the Paranormal Activity series has found great financial success with their comparatively meagre budgets, and Cloverfield in 2008 proved that, even on a larger scale, the handycam aesthetic can deliver effective thrills when employed by filmmakers who have a solid understanding of the style. Josh Trank's Chronicle represents an evolution of the found footage genre, taking the character as cameraman conceit to interesting new places, and marking the director as a young talent worth monitoring.4 years ago
Chronicle differs from predecessors like Cloverfield in the sense that this handycam footage isn't presented as 'found' per se, but rather is a stylistic and narrative choice which puts a refreshingly original spin on a well overdone story: the superhero origin. After encountering a strange, glowing object in a deep underground cave, high schoolers Andrew (Dane DeHaan), Matt (Alex Russell) and Steve (Michael B. Jordan) discover they have telekinetic powers which allow them to move objects with their mind. Matt considers the powers to be like a muscle, which can be strengthened through training, and after beginning small eventually the trio build superhuman strength and, to their delight, the ability to fly. The special effects betray a small budget at times, but the initial flying sequences are breathlessly entertaining, and the pure joy of the characters makes them more effective than most mega-budget blockbusters. These are meant to be regular kids, and although the story loses focus as the scale grows towards the climax, the early scenes are surprisingly genuine and affecting. But make no mistake, this is an origin story (one which doesn't necessarily beg for a sequel however), and Trank and his co-writer Max Landis (son of John Landis) use the visceral, in-your-face nature of the found footage to breathe life into a genre which has come dangerously close to wearing out its welcome in the past decade.
As is the case with almost all science-fiction, a lot more can be read into Chronicle than what is happening on the surface. Aside from the excitement of fighting and flying about, there is a very real human story at work, with a lot of teenage life's triumphs and tragedies. Trank and Landis clearly poured their own experiences into the film, with the three leads seeming like people from everyone's high school years. Added to this is a nice element of self-reflexivity as Andrew, an unpopular misfit, uses his camera to define himself, and how he sees the world. The old adage about writing what you know seems to ring true in the case of Chronicle, and seeing Andrew learn to move his camera in more dynamic ways thanks to his new found powers is perhaps the tiniest hint of autobiography from Trank. The film is filled with subtle aspects such as this which will probably be missed by most, but thankfully simply taking Chronicle at face value is a rewarding experience, proving that the superhero origin story is not dead, it just needs a good shake up from time to time.
Great New Twist on Superhero Movies
8/10 Enjoy trolling? Enjoy watching people get trolled? Here's your movie. Chronicle stumbled into theaters thoroughly undervalued. Although it does have its flaws, it has paved an entirely new route in the worn-out genre of superheroes. Chronicle brings all the major superhero questions into playWhere did our powers come from? How should we use our powers? In the end, however, those questions are irrelevant. This movie is not about three superheroes. It is about three teenage boys who just happen to have super powers.4 years ago
This movie is quite extraordinary. All three of the main actors are unknowns. When the movie begins, they all promise to me stereotyped high schoolersthe popular one, the outcast, and the stoner. As the movie progresses, those stereotypes become worthless. These actors were up to the challenge. Each main character changes so much that you won't recognize them from beginning to end. Mix this with the unique storyline and this movie has an extremely strong core.
A good deal of this movie is enjoyable simple because it is realistic to life. The bullying is brutal. The type of things that the main characters do with their powers is exactly what I would do. That's the shining point of this movie. It is true to life. It doesn't cover up life or try to smooth it over with simplifications. This movie is beautiful with its honesty. It allows the viewer to laugh hysterically one moment and cringe the next.
The problems are minor but still present. The incredible climax is followed up with a lackluster conclusion. The father's character is rather over-the-top. I can't tell if it was the writing or the acting that made it so. These two facts won't pull you away from enjoying the movie. It's just too bad that such a good movie would end on such a low note.
This movie is worth seeing. Some people will have trouble watching it in theaters because it is a shot from the first person and can be jerky at times. If you are okay with that, I would recommend seeing it in the theatre. I saw this movie with a large audiencewhich appeared to add to the experience. For the average Joe, this will be an enjoyable movie. For the superhero fan, this could be a cult classic.
A tremendous achievement in low-budget filmmaking.
9/10 The next in a long line of "found footage" flicks that have been flooding our cinemas over the last few years, Chronicle breaks free of the usual constraints within that sub genre to concoct a truly memorable sci-fi thriller. Retracing the steps of three teenage friends who are gifted with telekinesis after a chance encounter with something (intelligently, the movie never stipulates what exactly), the story focuses on the varying paths they take with their new found talent, but not until they have had some juvenile fun with it first. This is an amazingly accomplished debut feature for writer-director Josh Trank (who co-penned the script with Max "son of John" Landis); his technical veracity is utterly mind-blowing especially when you consider the shoestring funds he had to work with and his narrative pacing is impeccable. The icing on the already yummy cake is the marvellous CGI that allows our protagonists to fly, crush cars and stop baseballs in mid air all seamlessly and photo-realistically. Chronicle is a tremendous achievement in low-budget, big-concept filmmaking.4 years ago