By: Lawrence Foster
Rating: 9 out of 10
Those same people know that I view found-footage films much the same as I do combs — useless for the most part (just look at my caricature for proof).
Naturally “Chronicle” was a dilemma for me. Do I take the plunge and hope that the super-hero aspect of the film helps me forget that it is being shot in a way I can’t stand?
I decided to take the plunge and watch “Chronicle” and I couldn’t be more pleased with what I landed in. “Chronicle” is a welcome deviation from the traditional super-hero format and as such, should be applauded.
“Chronicle” follows three high school students: Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHann), Matt Garetty (Alex Russell) and Steve Montgomery (Michael B. Jordan). Andrew serves as the film’s main protagonist and “filmographer.” Andrew is a socially-awkward kid who gets bullied at school (thanks in part to his filming) and at home by a father (Michael Kelly) who is perpetually drunk. As if that wouldn’t be enough for a teenage boy to think about, his mother is on her death bed and Andrew’s dad can’t afford the medication/pain killers that she needs.
Andrew’s only friend is his cousin Matt, but even he thinks that Matt is a bit too hot-tempered. Matt invites Andrew to a party and, of course, Andrew decides to bring along his camera. At the party, Steve approaches Andrew and tells him to come into the woods because he and Matt found something.
What they found is a hole in the ground, and at the end of the tunnel, the trio finds a foreign (i.e. alien) artifact of some type. Steve touches the object and starts to develop a nose-bleed and the next thing you know, it is three weeks later.
After the encounter with the overgrown glow stick, the three boys discover that they have developed telekinetic powers. For anyone who has seen the previews, the next 10-15 minutes will come as no surprise as the boys start to showcase their powers on unsuspecting victims.
The fun quickly turns to anything but, when Andrew forces a car off the road and into a pond. Steve rescues the man driving the vehicle and after the incident, Matt draws up a set of rules they have to follow.
As the trio uses its powers, they become even stronger and can eventually levitate themselves and go all Super Man on gravity. Andrew even is able to use his powers in a talent show with Steve and finally is accepted into the “cool” crowd. An embarrassing moment at a party after the talent show, however, is the pivotal turning point in the film.
Up until that point, the powers had been used in a relatively light-hearted manner, but after Andrew’s incident at the party, he turns to “The Dark Side.”
Andrew starts to ask himself why he should feel guilty using his powers on the “lesser” humans. He rationalizes his forthcoming behavior by asking himself if people feel guilty when they kill a bug.
I won’t go any further into the plot, but the climax is amazing and first-time director Josh Trank did a tremendous job of creatively using found-footage during the climax.
As noted above, I am no fan of found-footage movies. That being said, “Chronicle” should be the new benchmark for the genre. Early in the film, I was on the fence with using it, but once Andrew’s powers developed enough, he was able to use it in ways I have never seen before. Andrew’s ability to levitate the camera really made me forget that I was even watching a film shot in that style, which is an accomplishment in itself.
Normally, the first few months of every year are bereft of anything worthwhile in theaters, but luckily that is not the case for 2012. “Chronicle” is a movie that would fit perfectly in the summer blockbuster category, but thankfully it has the winter all to itself. If you are a fan of super-hero movies or enjoy watching unique films that expand a genre, “Chronicle” is for you.