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“Chronicle” – Review (POSITIVE)

February 4, 2012

I’m not a big fan of the found footage genre; there are a few that I tolerate (“Paranormal Activity”), and one that I absolutely love (“Cloverfield”), but there’s just not enough you can do with it to make it fresh or reinventive, or is there? Josh Trank makes his feature debut in the anti-superhero thriller, “Chronicle”.

Three high school teens named Andrew (Dane DeHaan), Matt (Alex Russell), and Steve (Michael B. Jordan) discover a mysterious glowing blue meteor in cavern in the outskirts of Seattle, Washington. It is there that this alien object infects them with some kind of radiation endowing them with superpowers. Soon, though, they find their lives spinning out of control and their friendship, bond, and trust tested as Andrew begins embrace his darker side.

“Chronicle” is a superhero movie that spits on the face of superhero movies, not in a crude manner (a-la-“Kick-Ass”), but in realistic conception. You’ve got three teens, each different in their own way; ones a loser (Andrew), ones likeable (Matt), and the other is popular (Steve). When they’re given the great powers what do they do? They have fun! Playing pranks, goofing around, that sort of thing. But, it’s when the understanding that having great power does have responsibility, what happens when you tarnish responsibility for your personal gain?

The movies main focus is Alex; his home life isn’t sunshine and rainbows like Steve’s. Alex’s mother is dying of cancer (the very same cancer most movie parents seem to die from), and his father is a drunken abusive man. Alex knows he doesn’t have the greatest life; the only thing he feels he is responsible for is his mother. However, the movie doesn’t really develop that relationship quite well. I was really hoping that we’d get a better understanding about Alex and the relationship with his parents, instead of taking the easy way out and have the movie just plainly show us, ‘Yep, he’s got a mean dad, and a dying mother. There you go audience.’

So, Alex’s back-story is somewhat underdeveloped, but that’s not why you’re seeing this movie. If you wanna see a movie about a son with family issues rent “Warrior”.  Here you wanna see teens with superpowers. The movie delivers some incredible sequences, most notably the scene where the guys are flying high in the sky. Being a found footage film, Alex says from here on out he’s gonna document his sad pathetic life, I don’t know, perhaps he’s gonna make a dramatic documentary out of it. So, when he takes that camera high above in the clouds, the vantage point the audience gets is unreal!

There are not a lot of ways you can make changes to the found footage method; however, this movie does something very different. Alex embraces the camera, sort of as a second character, or more importantly a friend he can talk to. One of the cool powers he does is have the camera levitate next him, so it’ll get different vantage points. In some ways, it’s like Alex is making his very own real life superhero movie. There’s a particularly clever part in the film (minor spoiler), the climactic fight, when our ‘villain’ steals cameras & camera phones from nearby pedestrians, and has them circle around he & his adversary getting every angle of that heated moment.

The ending may seem a bit anti-climactic for some, but I find it quite beautiful. It’s a reminder about the differences of right and wrong, good and evil, and people who are indeed good but make bad choices for personal gain. And that’s what the movies really about. “Chronicle” could have easily been the “Jumper” of 2012, but it took new approaches of the super-human story, and credit really goes to the smart script written by Max Landis (son of John).

GRADE: B+

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