Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Chronicle - Movie Review


Chronicle was the first movie I have seen in theaters in months, and I was extremely pleased to discover that I had not wasted my money on it. When I first saw the trailer I thought it was going to be a lame X-Men knockoff, and while I did love Push, I do not tend to like repeated versions of the same idea. Chronicle is, essentially, what X-Men would be if it were just based around the kids, with no Professor X or Magneto. There are no "good guys" and "bad guys", merely three teenagers who are suddenly endowed with incredible and unexplained gifts. What makes this movie truly extraordinary is that it is honestly realistic. No, I don't believe in telekinesis, but if a group of 17 year old boys were suddenly able to do so, this is how it would turn out.

Without giving too much of the plot away, the boys, Andrew, Matt and Steve, all acquire these powers and spend some months playing with them, becoming stronger, and learning how powerful and dangerous they can be. Then one of them goes crazy and starts killing people. If this were to happen in real life, that is just about how it would play out. They wouldn't suddenly become super heros and start rescuing orphans and kittens, they would mess with their neighbors until they realized they could do a lot and get away with it. And then they would do it. I thought the acting was really phenomenal, Dane DeHaan (Andrew) in particular. He looks and acts like a young Leonardo DiCaprio and he portrayed an emotionally unstable teenager with enormous talent. I look forward to seeing more of him in the future.

My only major problem with the movie was the cinematography. I am a fan of the handheld camera style and I think it has been done well a number of times. Chronicle was not nauseating like Cloverfield, and the quality was better than The Blair Witch Project. I would have been entirely on board with it if new cameras were not added. We are introduced with Andrew's camera and told that he will be taking it everywhere with him - he is the narrator and we are seeing his movie. Then we begin to receive footage from other camera: another student, security cameras and police cameras. Suddenly, the intimate feel of a handheld camera is lost. What makes that style so special is that it feels real - like an unedited documentary that only you are seeing. When new cameras are added, this point is defeated. You become aware that at least an editor was needed to collect and compile all the footage, and there goes the
intimacy. Dave and I had a long conversation about this, and while his point is correct - there was not really a way to show all of this via one camera, when the cameraman goes insane - I wonder why the filmmakers decided to go the handheld route to begin with.