As others got ready for the Superbowl, I put on my little brown boots and headed to the movie theater to see Chronicle. From what I glimpsed of the trailer, it seemed like an interesting take on “superpowers”. There have been films in the past years that have touched on the topic of the moral changes of a person who has supernatural abilities. The plot line though, is centered around children who, if turned evil, will eventually turn good and close out to a happy ending. If that is what you are expecting out of this film, think again.The films plot is as follows:
“Three high school students make an incredible discovery, leading to their developing uncanny powers beyond their understanding. As they learn to control their abilities and use them to their advantage, their lives start to spin out of control, and their darker sides begin to take over.”
Chronicle, despite having a modest box-office prediction, is doing rather well this Super Bowl weekend and as of this morning is ranked at the No. 1 spot with $22 million dollars, beating out the projected $8 million. Chronicle, follows the film styling of Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, and Paranormal Activity all of which use found-footage to relay their stories.
Disclaimer: From this point on there are Spoilers galore, so if you do not wish to ruin the film for yourselves STOP Reading. If you are one of the curious bunch….you were warned….have fun!
The movie opens with Andrew ( Dane DeHann) a highschool teenager in an abusive home, who gets a video camera to record his life. We are then immersed in a day of Andrew’s really depressing life, where he is bullied constantly and has no friends. Later that day, Andrew is propositioned by his cousin Matt (Alex Russel) to attend a rave later that evening. He goes. Videotapes stuff on his camera. Gets bullied just a tad bit more and then encounters Steve (Michael B. Jordan) the popular kid who so happens to be hanging out with his cousin in the woods. While hanging Matt and Steve are hanging out they find some hole in the ground they think is cool and bring Andrew along on their continued exploration to record what they find.
I will say from the beginning of the film, you’ll get queasy. It isn’t because of the content of the film, which may make your stomach turn a bit later on as the story progresses, but it’s more due to the film style. The first half of the film’s shooting style is amateurish, which is meant to add realism to it being found-footage. Yet, more than once, the constant shaking and rapid movement of the camera will have you looking down at the ground or anything that is more stable than what’s in front of you. The shakiness of the film footage gets bearable as the film progresses, but it does not go away completely.
Since this story is presented through found-footage, the audience will miss key points that you kind of wish you were able to see. One such instance is when the guy’s go exploring in the cave and they find the mysterious rock that gives them power. We see glimpses of Steve touching it and sweat ebbs away from his face and is absorbed by the mysterious crystal rock. Next thing we see Matt in awe of the rock and investigating it, and finally we end with Steve having a seizure and blood coming out of his nose as the crystal turns red and the camera goes black.
Then the story continues, we assume weeks later, to the group messing around in the backyard with their powers. Ok, this is where I want to know how the hell they got out and what the hell happened? How is it possible for them to be all happy go-lucky after almost being buried in a hole deep underground? Later on in the film, when the guys want to figure out more about the mysterious rock,they just go back to where they found it and say, “Man, I can’t believe we got out of there.” Then they’re immediately surrounded by two or three Wildlife Rangers or State Troopers, can’t really tell, and once again they cut out the confrontation with those people as well.
I won’t list anymore places where this scenario happens because it just continues to do so. I’m not sure whether it was done to minimize the dialogue, but if that was a big concern they seriously could have cut out portions in the beginning that just seemed unnecessary and keep the portions that would have helped to make the film slightly well-rounded in the sense of perspective and plot.
Finally here are two other things I was not fond of in the film, which I feel go hand in hand, the amount of dialogue compared to the amount of action. When I watched this commercial, it left me with a sense of curiosity to see the film because I expected there to be more action and surprise. Sadly, I was misled. More than 75% of the film is dialogue, and the other 25% is the slightly longer version of the action that was already given to you in the trailers/commercials. The only new pieces of action occur in the last 3o minutes of the film and while the action is memorable and longer than the beginning of the film, it still had room to bust at the seams just a tad bit more.
So I’m sure at this point you’re wondering, “What the hell did you like about the movie?” This part was a big debate, ’cause despite my distaste for having a movie make me feel disoriented and out of balance, I sickeningly enjoyed how creeped out it made me feel. Andrew goes from shy and bullied youth, with a bleak outlook on life to a sociopath in a matter of an hour and 15 minutes. It sent shiver down my gut, and an “Oh my God!” out of my mouth when I saw him destroy the people almost anyone that came into contact with him once he went psycho. I enjoyed the fact that this movie freaked me out, and at the same time made me sympathize with him because of his predicament. I felt kind of dirty afterward because a part of me was glad that his drunk-abusive father got beat up by his son, who he tormented so.
Another thing I enjoyed was just how detailed and realistic everything seemed. From the spider crawling across the floor and getting pulled apart to the burns and lacerations all over Andrew’s body at the end of the film. The attention to all the little details really made the Chronicle stick in my head, and make me want to tell someone about it. Yanked out teeth, vomit blowjobs, explosions and all you have to hand a Gold Star to the Chronicle’s crew. They brought their “A” game!
This movie is a step in the right direction of original and unique storytelling, but a part of me feels like there could be have been so much more. Originally a story written by the films’ directors Max Landis and Josh Trank, a part of me hopes that they get offers to translate the film/story into a comic or graphic novel so the loose ends in the film can possibly get tied up and the story feels more complete than half finished.
Could it be possible that this is all leading to a second film? I mean they do mention in passing (pet peeve reemerges) that some other guy looked around the cave with Steve and Matt, but didn’t come back around on their second excursion. Also, the placement of the rock is suddenly guarded by the government and could lead to a sequel where the next person in contact with it must be stopped..again. Who knows.
All in all this movie gets rating of : B-
Good weekend movie if you got nothing to do, and want to spend the money. If you can just wait for it to come out on Netflix or Redbox so you can skip over all the meaningless dialogue and motion-sickness inducing camera shots.