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Oct 25, 2012

My Review for CHRONICLE.

          Dane DeHaan, Michael B. Jordan, Alex Russell, Michael Kelly, Ashley Hinshaw, Anna Wood and 
Bo Petersen.

                   Josh Trank.

                Chronicle when it came out, was one of those movies that looks a certain way but turns out a whole new way. What many of us thought was a typical teenage targeted cliched genre movie turned out to be one of the best movies of the year and a fresh offering as far as the usual Summer fare goes. An impressive directorial debut by Josh Trank who took the idea of found footage movies, which we have been seeing a lot since Paranormal Activity's success and combined it with the superhero genre which most of the time doesn't work and taking inspiration from Akira and Carrie while delicately adding an amazing character study. Chronicle is basically a story of three boys, Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan) his cousin Matt (Alex Russell) and one of his friend Steve (Michael B. Jordan) who are high school students who becomes friend over a course of a few days after gaining superhero powers after they are exposed to a mysterious substance. The main focus of the story is basically Andrew, his mother is dying of cancer while father is very abusive and alcoholic making for a very disturbed childhood and life for him. Not just that but he is constantly bullied in school and that makes him a very shy, unpopular and not much likable guy in school. Andrew records his daily life things with a camera where he shares everything that happens and takes it with himself everywhere. One day outside a party, Steve asks Andrew to come with him and bring the camera to record something strange in the woods. They find a large crystalline object inside a hole in the ground which is glowing blue. It suddenly turns red emitting something that makes the three of them nosebleed and sick.

               After that we see the group with telekinetic powers, showing off to each other and recording on the same camera, that are random acts of mischief with each other and with other people that comes off rather amusing and exciting. You can see the joy and amazing time they are having and you begin to feel great too, the gags they do on other people using their power looks very cool indeed and you can feel the same rush they are having to have those new gained powers. Chronicle starts in a very typical fashion that offers nothing new and seem like a very usual type of movie that involves teenagers. Once it reaches that point, you suddenly start thinking about how far are they going to go with this and where would this take them as it is said "with powers, comes great responsibilities". We see an early act of what will turn out to be a disastrous self and overall destructive path when one day, Andrew uses his power to drive off a car from the road in a ditch. Though that doesn't change much, they do decide to limit their powers. We get a feeling of how fragile Andrew is and how overwhelming this powers for him can be considering his state of mind and the life that he has. Over the days he becomes very hostile and he starts shifting slowly toward the dark side. Now when his father tries to attack him in any way, he overpowers him. Andrew begins isolated and keeps falling deep down in the darkest of depth which proves fatal for Steve one day. When he is bullied now in school, he uses his powers to beat the bullies, break their legs, arms, teethes etc. An incident at a gas station when he is trying to steal the money for his mother causes an explosion that puts him in the hospital. His father blames him for his mother's death on the bedside at the hospital and Andrew suddenly strikes his father in a very angry and raging sense that blows out the wall of the hospital. Floating in mid-air holding his father, Matt after experiencing nosebleed himself and watching the whole thing on TV arrives in order to stop him.

                  The final act that this movie has puts all these big summer blockbusters to shame. One of the most potent and impressive final acts i have seen in a long time. The sheer intensity, fast pace and carefully directed scenes with some amazing action/VFX, those few moments are something that will makes your heart stop. There is a very easy flow in the movie that lets you follow these characters who looks annoying at the start but the smartly written screenplay outshines their inner conflicts and in all the mayhem that occurs, leaves us wondering for them because we develop a certain bond with them. I for once identified myself with the character of Andrew, the often bullied, shy, isolated kid with big dreams but a disturbing life. On top of that, Dane DeHaan gives an amazing performance and carefully discovers the layers that his character develops slowly over the course of the movie and hits the right notes. Everyone else did a nice job too but DeHaan is what adds such an amazing sense of brilliance to his character and makes us identify and familiar with what is underneath all the evilness and what drove him to this insanity. The visual effects looks far more superior for a substantially lower budgeted movie and are used very effectively. The shaky/found footage camera techniques are used effectively as well, not merely used to show us a true story of course but to add a sense of nuance concerning the characters, the superhuman part and to develop the intense and disturbing atmosphere the unease that slowly creeps under our skin.

               Effectively delivers the drama of the teenage bullying, disturbing family life, gaining something that is not actually needed and the consequences a course of action can have on once own life and on others no matter what drives a person to do them in the first place. Brilliantly imagined story, exhilarating first rate sci-fi thriller, wonderful use of technology, packed with convincing performances with real life teenagers put in extraordinary situations slowly going deeper into the subject and making Chronicle a near perfect example of near-masterful film making. A bittersweet, sad yet highly enjoyable movie that should be watched and appreciated by everyone.

Grade: A-