My first movie of 2012! *tear* It’s beautiful, so beautiful. Made all the more beautiful by the fact that it was a great first film to start off the 2012 movie year. Can you believe that it’s been damn near a month since the last time I saw a movie in theaters!? The last film I saw was Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. There were quite a few other movies I wanted to catch, but just haven’t had the time due to school. Thanks to Natalie for coming with me to see this movie after I incessantly bugged her LOL.
Chronicle is the story of three teenagers who acquire telekinetic powers after finding a strange substance in the ground, which sounds very familiar in terms of superhero stories. However, Chronicle is not the typical superhero story of 1) finding powers, 2) exploring powers, 3) using powers for good. Something I remember /Film’s Peter Sciretta said about Hancock that I think fits with Chronicle is that it’s nice to go into a superhero story and not know any of the hero’s backstory. We know Peter Parker’s Uncle dies, we know that Joker isn’t going to die, we know the gamma rays are going to mutate Bruce Banner, etc. It was refreshing to go into a superhero story and not know what was going to happen.
The main trio of performances by Dane Dehaan, Alex Russell, and Michael B. Jordan ground the story with a compelling look at the different natures of each character. This might be my bias showing, but I think Michael B. Jordan (who is amazing on The Wire and Friday Night Lights) is clearly the standout among the three. While not exactly having the most original character, Jordan gives a charming, charismatic performance. Dane Dehaan clearly has the meatiest role and is really good for the most part, but I thought his acting at times was a little flat and at others ridiculously over the top. Alex Russell does fine as well, but he doesn’t really shine during the dramatic moments. Once again, it could be my bias, but I’m still hoping that Jordan becomes the star that he should be.
What I loved the most about this movie is how different it feels compared to other found footage films and superhero stories. There are similarities of course, but they throw in some nice little touches here and there that made me appreciate the filmmaking aspects and the ingenuity of the execution. For example, they find a way to keep the film from being shaky cam all the time in a clever way that didn’t feel stupid. The action set pieces are also quite invigorating and really had me clenching my seat in tension.
Admittedly, there were a few aspects of the movie where I was thinking “wait, how does that make sense?” This is a found footage movie, so it doesn’t really make sense to me why the camera would cut in the middle of scenes and keep up with the conversation in perfect time. There were also a few spots where no one is holding the camera and for some reason it basically does a jump cut within the same scene, which makes no sense because the camera should be running at all times until someone turns it off. Plus, the plausibility that someone would keep recording at some of those times requires a lot of suspension of belief.
The CGI is quite shaky at times, but I was more forgiving towards this film because I know that the budget wasn’t very high. I was mostly completely enthralled at the moments in this film that I was totally sucked into the story of it all. The movie is only 84 minutes long, but it feels like you get a lot of bang for your buck and not like the film was trying to skimp on story or action set pieces.
Chronicle features impressive filmmaking backed by solid performances and some breathtaking sequences that’ll knock you off your feet. Found footage films and superhero stories have been in vogue for quite a while, but Chronicle clearly isn’t an attempt to cash in on those two popular subgenres. It does a lot to differentiate itself from other found footage films and superhero stories cut from the same cloth. I’d highly recommend you see this movie in theaters because it is well worth a watch.