Saturday 4 February 2012

Review: Chronicle

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

Chronicle poster

83 mins / Dir. Josh Trank

As I may have mentioned before, the thing that really winds me up about the 'found footage' genre is the marketing approach of "oh, this really happened! And we've managed to put it out on general release despite it being a) police evidence in an ongoing crime investigation or b) highly sensitive government property!" What pisses me off more than that is the fact that people seem to buy into it. *growls*

Anyhow, it's worth stating from the outset that Chronicle does not purport to be a record of covered-up events. The fact the film is shot in first person is a storytelling device to ensure that the audience only sees what the characters themselves (or the camera, at least) see. While some may complain that certain plot-points aren't fully explained in the film, that also comes back to the fact that the central characters don't find all the answers, and we're seeing the world from their viewpoint.

The Plot: Three teenagers, from varying rungs on the social ladder, find a common bond when they develop telekinetic powers after a mysterious underground encounter. As their abilities grow, so do the pressures to use their new gifts responsibly, which is often easier said than done...

The Good: Considering how outlandish the effects are in Chronicle, they're beautifully underplayed. If you can accept that the three leads can suddenly move objects using their minds alone, not once do the vfx look overdone. This is supported by the excellent performances of Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell and Michael B Jordan: They're excited at their abilities, but they never look like they don't believe what's happening. Because of that, you can't help but be swept up for the ride.

The Bad: There are elements of shakycam in the first 15 minutes or so, which is distracting on a cinema-sized screen. That being said, this is largely remedied when Andrew (DeHaan) gets a more modern camera, presumably with shake-control, and then starts to levitate the camera around, getting rid of all the shudder (which is also a neat device to show us what the camera sees, but also have all the characters on-screen at the same time).

The Ugly: Nothing to report. In my humble opinion.

Worth a punt? If you've ever wanted super-powers, even as a kid, you'll get a lot out of this. It's nice to see a real approach, where the characters don't go out in search of crimes to foil, but just start to enjoy their powers instead. It's also a nice how the guys set out some ground-rules for using their telekinesis in public… and then largely disregard them. Just like I would :D

At less than an hour and a half it's short, but you don't really notice as it's structured so well. Because of the nature of cam-footage, you won't lose a lot by watching this on DVD, but I recommend the cinema purely to see the clarity of the special effects.


• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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