3 February 2012 | cadillac20
A great new entry into superpower mythos films
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.
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.