Chronical (Rated PG-13) 5 Stars
Generally speaking, I think found shaky-cam footage movies are not only irritat-ing, but migraine inducing. A movie needs to be pretty good for me to overlook the risk of a two day headache. Well, I know what I hate, and I didn’t hate Chronicle (84 minutes). For a relatively low-budget effort with the potential to be a bad CW super-powered melo-drama, it actually tells a relatively sophisticated story with eas-ily relatable themes. Yes, writing team Landis and Trank went a little heavy-handed on the Nietzschean Übermensch/Will-To-Power thing, but to be fair they probably thought they were being real subtle-like.
The film takes its time introducing its main characters. First up is Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan AKA Timbo from True Blood), a high school outsider who is “chronicling” his life with a video camera that’s at least 15-years-old. Andrew, who really should have found his niche in the AV club by now, is dealing with a few things. His mother is dying, his father (Michael Kelly) is a drunk and his personality is a bit hostile/defensive. As you can imagine, Andrew is quite the popular kid.
Andrew has a cousin, Matt (Alex Russell) who takes him to a party. Despite Matt’s excellent advice on how not to be a great big dork, Andrew decides to stay the course and naturally winds up crying into his camera outside. The BMOC, Steve (Michael B. Jordan), wanders over gig-gling and drags him into the woods to meet Matt, who has given up on the party. I guess? To go wander in the woods with Steve? Hmm. This part seems a bit clum-sy. It could either be a straight-up case of the writers just not thinking through this part very well, or the writers deciding too much explanation would be beside the point, or the mysterious force that eventually changes the newly formed triumvi-rate is somehow drawing them into the woods.
The mysterious force is apparently located deep in a hole in the ground, which means that if Andrew wants to get it on film, he needs to maneuver his giant an-tique camera down a vertical shaft. Possibly to his credit, or a credit to his naiveté, the possibility that the other two are planning to ditch him in the hole and stand over him laughing does not seem to cross his mind. While in the hole things get weird and the camera fizzes out. The next scene shows the boys playing with telekinesis in someone’s backyard as one boy off-handedly mentions that (a) they left the old camera in the hole and (b) Andrew has a cool new modern camera. Which begs the question: If the central conceit of the movie is that this is “found” footage, and the old camera got left in the hole, where did the first 20 minutes of the movie come from?
So at first, despite a few nosebleeds, the Super Best Friends Club has a ball, what with the sleepovers and scaring small children, and moving cars with their minds. Then Andrew has a whoopsie moment and they all agree that they need to voluntarily limit themselves and the way they use their powers.
After using the power of telekinetic flight to slip from the surly bonds of Earth, the boys decide that not even flying is more impor-tant than girls. Matt and Steve do their best to hook Andrew up, but Andrew has another whoopsie so that plan goes south. But it does set up the final act! See, as the movie goes on, Andrew has fewer and fewer reasons not to do exactly what he pleases, and more and more reasons to engage in a destructive rampage. Finally, in a super powered frenzy of narcis-sism and teenage angst, the boys work through the feelings by dropping cars and helicopters on each other.
Overall, it is nice to see a more focused take on the genre that actually manages to bring something new to the origin story. But, alas, no after credits scene.
Now showing at Wynnsong 7, Carmike 12 and Carmike Market Fair 15.