Saturday, February 1, 2014

Chronicle (2012)

Found footage movies have been quite popular recently. It seems that more found footage movies are being made each year, which is probably due in part to the fact that they are relatively cheap to produce and therefore turn a profit easier than bigger budget films. Before watching Chronicle the only found footage movie I had seen was The Blair Witch Project, the first one to become a mainstream hit. While I like that movie, I feel it is a bit overrated and it didn't make me want to seek out other found footage movies.
It's nice to see a found footage movie break some new ground as most tend to be some sort of horror film. Chronicle is essentially a found footage superhero flick, which is a unique take on both genres. The film is about three male high school students who gain super powers after discovering a strange object in the woods and must deal with their new abilities. The acting is solid from the three leads Michael B. Jordan, Alex Russell, and Dane DeHaan (who plays Andrew).
The camera work in Chronicle is realistic enough without being too jerky. Some people get headaches from found footage movies but I had no problems with it here. Chronicle switches to multiple cameras throughout the story which may be considered "cheating" to some, but I thought it was an interesting technique that made sense within the context of the story. I also liked the use of mirrors in the cinematography.
Warning: spoilers abound in the paragraph below this picture. Highlight the text if you have already seen the movie.

Although I enjoyed Chronicle overall, I didn't feel that the third act was as strong as the first two. I thought that more of the back-story (Andrew's mother and father, why Andrew felt compelled to film his life before the incident, etc.) would be clearly tied up but this never happened. Another issue in this part of the movie was that it didn't make any sense as to why Andrew turned to petty crimes to get money for his mother's medicine. Why didn't Andrew just use his powers to steal the medicine? Or better yet, simply earn the money as a magician? Both these problems hurt the film since Andrew is set up as a sympathetic villain, but is hard to care about as the movie approaches its climax. Chronicle goes all to action towards the end which I guess is to be expected, but I was hoping for something different after the first two-thirds of the film. That said, I'm glad the mystery of what exactly gave the boys their powers was never revealed.

Chronicle is the first feature length film from director Josh Trank and writer Max Landis (son of director John Landis). This is a solid debut effort from both of them who will probably have bright futures in film.

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