Friday, June 15, 2012

Chronicle

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Chronicle - 2 out of 5

Chronicle had the unlimited potential to be a fantastic superhero-style story about some young teenagers who end up gaining amazing powers but it ultimately destroys itself by eliminating elements like character, story and plot in favor of a cheap gimmick.

A teenager NOT sexting and using a camcorder to film all things?
Now that's fiction!

Socially awkward teenager Andrew (played by Dane DeHaan) is obsessed with his camera and decides to film all aspects of his life--or at least random moments that create an unimaginably boring first half hour.  After he, his cousin (Matt played by Alex Russell) and the school's most popular man (Steve played by Michael B. Jordan--yes, his name is Michael Jordan) find an alien-like crystal in a large hole and suddenly the boys discover they've gain insane powers.  What follows is them documenting (and by documenting, I mean filming YouTube fodder of the boys performing pointless pranks with their new powers) until Andrew goes too far and hurts someone.  Ignoring the clear warning signs that Andrew is a Columbine waiting to happen, Andrew (predictably) becomes corrupted by his new found abilities as bullies, a sick mother and an abusive father breaks his already fragile ego that's been weakened by social isolation.  Andrew then goes on a rampage and it's up to Matt to stop him.

Jokes on them...it's actually a giant alien's penis.

Chronicle is basically the part of the origin story in a superhero film that's in-between the parts where they gain their powers and go spandex shopping.  It's the part where they come to understand their gifts only Chronicle takes what is usually, at most, a 20 minute montage and makes it a hour and a half film only to jump to the epic battle sequence that had the potential to be awesome if it wasn't for the movie's kryptonite.

"Weee!  My flying looks completely natural and not like special effects at all!"

The single aspect of this movie that stopped Chronicle from being a decent (or possible better) superpower/action movie is the fact it was...*sigh*...a "found footage" film.  "Found footage" is a cheap gimmick that basically frees filmmakers of such burdens as character and story and are given free range to phone-in the end product.  The concept of a teenager getting powers and filming it is a great idea but to build an entire film around it just gets annoying as sequences are filmed that make no logical sense as to why they are being filmed in the first place.  Sure seeing Andrew getting beat up by his dad makes sense for the development of the story and character but what are the odds it gets filmed in real life or, even more mysteriously, did he know he was going to get his ass kicked and asked his daddy to stay within frame beforehand so he captured it all?

The film becomes even more ridiculous with its camera use as Andrew decides to use
his powers to "hover" the camera around the action...and can still keep all the
action within frame.

Had the film added elements of the kid using the camcorder to record his progress while remaining a typical, mom and pop shop, missionary position movie, Chronicle could have been infinitely better but instead, Andrew's mysterious obsession with filming himself (which only exists in order to film the movie) becomes ridiculously annoying.  Even more annoying is trying to figure out who collected this footage and edited it together because in the film's third act, Andrew is seen from security cameras, cell phones and even cameras on police cars' dashboards.  Am I suppose to believe that this movie was suppose to be someone's "labor of love" and they painstakingly gathered all this footage?  However, this "labor of love" couldn't have been that difficult as the movie was released in 2012 and the events took place in...2012!  So I guess the police were too willing to hand over the evidence from their dashboard cams.

Apparently a Fiona Apple music video is thrown into the film at some point.

Am I over-thinking this?  If you find crap movies like Paranormal Activity and Apollo 18 entertaining, you might say "yes."  But these "found footage" films are sold on their supposed "realism" (although they have yet to show a single bit of logic and reality) and the whole concept behind this genre (other than doing as little work as possible with mysterious large returns) is the idea that someone "finds" this "footage" and releases to the public--yet they never acknowledge the fact they always contain a half an hour (or more) of footage that provides nothing more than padding the movie out to a running length.

Without his trusty camera at his side, Andrew uses his powers to confiscate
innocent bystanders' cell phones...come on Chronicle, now you're just
getting dumb.

This gimmick hurts the overall film because, like all "found footage" movies that come out of Hollywood, the emphasis is NOT on character or story but cheap scenes where they can utilize the first-person perspective.  Sure the scene of them nearly getting hit by a plane when they learn to fly is neat but is there any development of the characters from it?  No.  Instead, it goes to the next sequence where the filmmakers can play with the camera and do things they think are "cool."  Honestly, "found footage" films feel like they are all made by people who've only recently discovered the existence of the camera.

Even with superpowers, passing a kidney stone can be rough.

Finally, the emphasis on the camera and not the events and characters ends up hurting this film immensely.  Character development is practically nonexistent within Chronicle.  The character of Steve never grows, never changes as he comes to know his powers and Matt only remains the cousin of Andrew--never changing at all.  The only one who is altered by the events is Andrew who grows evil from his powers (man, Uncle Ben was right with the whole "great power/great responsibility" stuff).  Ultimately, the film culminates in Andrew battling Matt but any emotion that could have been pouring out of this fight is lost due to the filmmakers love affair with the camera and not the characters.

Chronicle could have been a decent, entertaining film...if it wasn't for the shitty "found footage" gimmick.  It was clear that, through a combination of a weak script and a desire to cash in on a fad genre, Chronicle was doomed to be a cliche superhero story engrossed in a bigger cliche genre.

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