Monday, June 23, 2014

Chronicle (Josh Trank, 2012) Review

I may often complain that there are many genres that have declined in quality over the decades. Comedy seems very samey, Parody has become an abomination of human conception and Horror seems very dried up and poorly implemented as a result of the overuse of 'found-footage films'. It's quite debatable but superhero films are currently on top at the moment so what happens when you apply the 'found-footage' idea to a film chock-full of super powers? Let's find out.

Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHann) is a shy and lonely high school student who has only one friend, it being his cousin Matt (Alex Russell). Andrew buys a video camera to record his daily life both at home and school. Matt decides to take Andrew to a friend's party where he meets Matt's friend Steve (Michael B. Jordan). The trio discover a pit out in the woods with a strange object that knocks them out upon touch. The boys awaken to discover that they have gained supernatural powers to do as they please. Andrew slowly falls into darkness when he relies on his powers to get money for his mother's medicine while Matt and Steve use their powers for good instead.

Normally I hate 'found-footage films' because they normally subtract good characters and intriguing plots for the sake of style however this is where Chronicle stands out. When I reminisce about Chronicle, I don't think about the style, I remember the memorable and likable characters as well as the strongly built up narrative. It takes its time in developing Andrew and his transformation as a person as well as trying to balance his progression with an almost involuntary one for Matt. It's almost a story of 'Cain and Abel' which is a narrative archetype I normally always find fascinating. You may recognise Dane DeHann most recently as the Green Goblin in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and I am proud to see him rise from his strong performance in Chronicle to the mainstream comic book films. The main three are very well cast and it also shows with Michael B. Jordan being cast as the Human Torch in the new Fantastic Four film...waiting on you now, Alex Russell...go out there and be...I don't know, Nova? Nova would be cool.

What I found interesting about the production of Chronicle is that, while I know it has a limited budget, it still looks great most likely as a result of sacrificing the camera budget for the handheld look. I suppose it's clever in that way since it knew where they good drop certain aspects in order to beef up the point of the film and that's the visual representation of the powers the trio gain. In fact, the way that the powers are implemented is also quite unique. Yes they can fly, crush things with their mind and use super strength but it all boils down to one starting power and that is telekinesis which clearly shows that they thought about how to impletent superpowers in the most realistic way I've seen in a film. Man of Steel came close with Superman leaping really, really far rather than straight up flying.

I know most people have bailed out of the idea of the new Fantastic Four movie but with the likes of Josh Trank and Michael B. Jordan behind it, Chronicle has paved the way for it. Josh Trank delivers us a fascinating pioneer of 'found-footage film' that runs with great new actors who I am keeping an eye on. Seeing Dane DeHann and Michael B. Jordan step into mainstream superhero films does make me happy but I do wonder if Alex Russell will join them. I do recommend Chronicle even to people who don't enjoy the likes of other superhero films as, outside of the powers, there isn't much evidence of this genre.

A fascinating story that displays a strong use of character development thanks to great acting and good directing.

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