Normally when it comes to the found-footage genre, the first concept that comes to mind is a horror tale centered on characters fighting against paranormal entities or demon incarnates. Director Josh Trank offers something unprecedented in the category, a story that answers the question of what would do you have if you were a high school teenager with superpowers. It is a story, caught on documentary- style footage, following the bonding and friendship of three friends put to the test when they are acquired with an uncanny gift that goes beyond what their imaginations. And for those nervous about the found- footage genre's common filthy habits of contorting the action with eye-straining shaky cam, fear no more as Josh Trank makes a generous effort on reducing this gimmick to a minimum. But that's much of the surprise compared to the gripping narrative heft that writer Max Landis manages to pack in this 83 minutes science-fiction thriller. This film, set in Seattle, follows 17-year old Andrew Detmer (played by Dane DeHaan), a lonely young man struggling with an unpleasant home life perpetrated by his alcoholic father (played by Michael Kelly) who slaps him around like garbage and his mother who is bed-ridden and dying of cancer. If that is not enough, he is also forced to deal with bullies at school and has no one to turn to but his cousin Matt (played by Alex Russell). During a night of partying and dancing, he, Matt, and popular fellow student Steve (played by Michael B. Jordan) sneak into some deserted where they are plunged into a dark hole inhabited by a mysterious crystal. Before they know, they are granted with eerie telekinetic powers. The story then follows their adventures as they explore their powers which soon turns into the nightmare when Andrew develops a dark side and becomes using his powers for sinister purposes.
Some may argue that this is a superhero origin story as it follows the journey of three teens gaining superpowers. However, it is hard to considered this for the superhero genre based on its approach. That is not to say this film doesn't inhabit a few components of a superhero flick. There is a supervillain, but the villain lies not among the characters but within the psychological nature of the lead character Andrew as he progressively transforms from an innocent kid to an emotionally disturbed youngster with anger and frustration consuming him from inside out. The emotional nature of the young man is established by scenes showcasing the harrowing relationship with his abusive father The film maturely handles this concept in a way that not only allows for some steady character development, but opens the door to an tightly gripping climax towards the end where Andrew struggles to come to terms of his slowly deteriorating innocence. This is greatly pulled off by a sufficient, if slightly jarring tonal shift from the first half following the lives of the three characters as they toy with their new powers in goofy activities like flying around the city and pulling silly pranks at a toy store, to the second half revolving around Andrew's emotional transformation. However, partial credit should go to Dane DeHaan who puts on a stellar performance, channeling the psychological disturbance and emotional fortitude of his character. And kudos to Josh Trank for effectively capturing the action, particularly the final sequence in downtown Seattle, without resorting too far into the common gimmicks of smearing the action with redundant shaky cam and frenetic editing.
Chronicle is an exhilarating incarnation of the found-footage genre filled with fun, energy, and gripping spectacle. Of course, the film is no gamechanger for found-footage flicks, a category of films that have gained notoriety for their creative bankruptcy and the unfavorable cinematography that has hindered the experience of many movies in that crowd. Nonetheless, it is a nice little treat of both teens and adults. So step onboard!
Action / Drama / Mystery / Sci-Fi / Thriller
Action / Drama / Mystery / Sci-Fi / Thriller
The shy, lonely and outcast teenager Andrew Detmer is bullied and has no friends at high-school and lives with his abusive and alcoholic father Richard Detmer and his terminally ill mother Karen. Andrew buys a camera to film his everyday life. His cousin Matt Garetty drives him to school and invites Andrew to go to a party at night. Nearby they find a tunnel and suddenly acquire telekinetic abilities and Andrew becomes the most powerful. But he easily loses his temper and becomes dangerous while Matt tries to control him. When his mother needs a medicine and Andrew does not have enough money to buy it, his darker side overcomes and he becomes a menace.
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April 27, 2012 at 11:49 PM