With the recent surge of comic superheroes making the jump from comic pages to the big screen, Hollywood have been pushing superhero origin story again and again. You can put Chronicle into that pile of movies. However Chronicle is different enough which makes it one of my favorite for 2012.
Chronicle is not a fresh take on the superhero origin tale, it follows the superhero origin story formula by the book. However the way the story unfolds and the way its presented to you is refreshingly different.
Chronicle uses the ‘amateur found-footage’ format of story telling. First made popular by this little film project know as ‘The Blair Witch Project’. A couple other film also had tried this format. One of them most notably, is ‘Cloverfield’.
‘The Blair With Project’ is a horror film about three student filmmakers who went into the woods with their camera and some scary stuff happens. ‘Cloverfield’ is about a group of people in New York City who were having some party and alien monsters came down and crush a few buildings and stuff. Both of the film are in the perspective of a handheld camera, and it shares the same problem – shaky running video and hard to see footage.
I don’t mind that much about ‘amateur found-footage’ type of film. But Chronicle did something clever. The story is about three high-school kids who found something in a hole on the ground and gets some telekinetic powers. Each three of the kids has a different background.
Andrew Detmer is the unpopular kid at school with abusive alcoholic father, the kid that gets picked on by bullies. His only friend is his cousin, Matt Garetty, who is the anti-establishment kid that plays by his own rules. He refuses to be part of the high-school hierarchy and are somewhat philosophical. Third kid is Steve Montgomery, the popular kid, running for the class president.
Andrew bought a camera and decides to record every part of his live. Hence how the film begins. And he didn’t stop until the end. The three kids were brought together with one common thing which is their telekinetic powers.
Typical superhero flick would have them use their powers for good and they started to fight crimes, but Chronicle is not your typical superhero flick. The second half of the film is all about them practicing their new powers and doing harmless pranks on people.
Andrew starts to harness his power up to a point where he can levitate his camera. Now this is what I think was the clever thing Chronicle did. An ‘amateur found-footage’ purist would call this cheating, because with the ‘levitating powers’ the camera become stable and the film instantly become bearable.
Another thing they did is to have scenes with two camera. So apparently the female interest in the film is a ‘blogger’ and she also records stuff on her camera. So the scene with talking with two camera pointing at each other are edited just like a normal film. Makes you forget awhile about the found-footage style.
Anyhow the film is predictable. I know from the start that Andrew will spiral down into the ‘dark side’ and becomes the ‘super villain’ so to speak. While his cousin and friend Matt has to stop him because he is the only one with the power to do so.
Everything was leading up to that moment, the epic battle between good and evil. Even though as predictable as it may seems, I was still surprised at how epic the final battle is. Still keeping to the found-footage method. The final battle is a mashup of various videos sources – from camera phones, to CCTV, to police car video.
The action is like how you would expect in a superhero movie. We all have seen spiderman thrown into buildings and stuff, but Chronicle found-footage style makes it surreal. I was at the edge of my seat.
Chronicle is currently my favorite film of 2012. It’s still early in the year, who knows.
You might also want to check out an older post – Lazy Teenage Superheroes