Friday, February 3, 2012

Move Aside, Superman: Our Review of "Chronicle" (2012)

Directed By: Josh Trank

Starring: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell and Michael B. Jordan

Synopsis: Three high school students from different cliques stumble across a mysterious object in the woods and appear to gain telekinetic powers. As the three learn how to harness their newfound abilities, they begin to learn that these awesome powers may not be all fun and games.

Andrew: Tonight Sarah and I saw our number one most anticipated movie of the week, "Chronicle." As we mentioned in our preview of this week's new releases, "Chronicle" is a relatively low-budget "found footage" film. Except instead of a haunted house or a monster invasion, this one is a new take on the superhero mythos. Sarah, you said yesterday that you weren't much of a fan of the "found footage" genre - what did you think of "Chronicle?"

Sarah: Oh, I'm still not much of a fan of them, but when they are done right it can turn out to be a really cool film. This was one of those times. This. Film. Was. AWESOME! It was a dark superhero movie where these kids acquire telekinetic abilities and learn how to control their newfound power. Now, from today's standpoint, the special effects do look a little amateur at the beginning but as the movie progresses you forget about it because the movie grabs ya and takes you on this wicked ride! 

A: Wow! That was honestly not the reaction I was expecting from you! I know you said you liked it as we were leaving the theatre, but I didn't realize to what extent you liked it.

I completely agree. This movie was a blast, and you nail it on the head when you say it grabs you. From the opening scene that introduces our main protagonist, Andrew, you could tell this wasn't going to be your average movie. Speaking of that first scene, it's a perfect example of what this film did best and that's building up the main characters before delving into the real action. It gave me more of an emotion investment in the proceedings.

S: You do get emotionally invested, and I liked that. You also get a look at the dark side. Actually, you can imagine that this is how every arch villain starts their careers. 

OK, what did you think about the camera angle changes? Like when it changed from an older camera to a newer camera and then a cut to a security cam? They really paid attention to detail in this movie.

A: The differences between the different camera angles and the kinds they used were another great strength of the movie. It easily could have been a terrible film. Easily. But director Josh Trank was very smooth with the transitions.

I really liked how the film starts with Andrew using an older film handheld camera that looks grainy, then he upgrades to a digital HD camera that's sharp, it sometimes cuts to another handheld camera a female classmate uses to video-blog, and then the security camera footage at various spots. It all works and feels natural for the movie.

S: Agreed. Because it was a "found footage" movie, you never really got the idea that they were “acting” because the actors were really invested in their characters. It was interesting to see the demise of the characters when they start to realize that their new power has to come with responsibility. 

I will be interested to see how it does in the box office this weekend.

A: If I had to guess, I bet this film cleans up at the box-office this weekend. The theatre we were in was almost to capacity and it was a very young crowd. That bodes well for "Chronicle."

A couple of other quick things: the point you mention about the actors being invested in their characters? I think that speaks volumes to the actors and how authentic their performances felt. They really did come across as real teenagers. That can be tough to do sometimes, especially in a film like this. Props are in order for Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell and Michael B. Jordan. DeHaan had to carry the film as the main character we follow, and who has the biggest character arc; while I felt that Jordan was the most authentic. He could have a big career ahead of him; he was very charismatic.

Lastly for me, I felt that considering the budget is only $15 million, the special effects were pretty darn good. Yeah, there were times when they weren't the best, but it never took me out of the movie. And when the effects were on? They were seamless.

S: I will say, while the point of view camera thing was cool it did get a little monotonous at times. I don't know, maybe I just wanted to see the movie from the view of the director. I think that it would have taken away from the overall look of the movie, but still. Maybe it was because all the movement hurt my eyes at times. Also, I would have liked to have seen the person behind the camera at times, just to get another reaction.

A: I find that take interesting, because I personally found the gimmick of having the characters uses their telekinetic powers to float the camera around them to be quite original. But I see where you're coming from.

Ok! Let's wrap this up with a rating, shall we? What do we give "Chronicle?"

S: Oh, I can only assume that it will grace the library that is our movie collection one day.

(Out of Five)

Next Post: Tomorrow we will talk briefly about some casting news that broke on Friday for a sequel to one of our all-time favorite animated films. After that we’ll take a small break due to family in town and the Super Bowl on Sunday. As always, thank you for reading!

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