Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Chronicle of Disbelief

The camera becomes a tool, a participant and a conduit in this tale of supernatural teenage angst.


ARTH VADER (AV): Capitalizing on the current 'handi-cam cinema' trend of movies told from a personal perspective (read; the Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield and Paranormal Activity to name just a few) Chronicle inserts the viewer into the world of three regular-seeming teenagers who stumble upon and extraordinary finding that grants them undreamt of power. And as always–at a cost. This movie also trends toward the never-seems-to-get-old empowered teenage genre (read; X-MEN, Twilight and Harry Potter Movies) and we get a front row seat on the latest tale of how absolute power corrupts absolutely. Did I miss anything, Pontificator?

THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): Nope, that just about covers it Vader. There are no continuity issues here since it’s an original film... or is it? I found myself reminded of other films such as Jumper and Push. The one word title’s aside, the film shares the idea of young people with powers, learning how to use them...and making some bad decisions along the way. Although similar, the movie does manage to separate itself enough for a unique presentation.


AV: With a cast or relative unknowns, Chronicle delivers a somewhat original story with a relatively fresh-faced cast. You know Pointy, my jury isn't in yet on thoughts on the whole handi-cam (hand-held) camera approach. It certainly worked wonders in Cloverfield, but this can also be a headache-inducing hinderance. While it frees up the actors to be more "real" I am not sure I get reality out of this effect. Lord only knows, Reality-TV is a writhing disaster that requires this in front of the camera to have little-to-know acting chops. Chronicle, though, offers a little bit more.

TP: Agreed Vader... it’s always roll of the dice to cast a movie full of unknowns... but this time it paid off. It also helped that the directing took the approach of the documentary effect validating the title of the film. Dane DeHaan was excellent and very convincing as someone that had serious social issues. Alex Russell had a more subtle role, but was very effective in being a pivotal presence as the kind of person many people know or have known while in high school. Michael B. Jordan, the most experienced of the main cast... and coming off his success in Red Tails, added flavor and injected a contrasting, but complimentary personality that offset and upgraded the other two characters.


AV: I don't know about this one—were there any special effects? Yeah there were a few very fast 'super-power' sequences and certainly the mysterious underground crystal scene was cool but I don't know if there was anything at home the average layperson couldn't do with a few trick and a boot-legged copy of Adobe After Effects. Outside the showdown and explosions of the big finale, this film, given it's premise, wasn't a Special Effects overload. Don't get me wrong, cool, but far from over-the-top.

TP: The special effects were good at times... and questionable at others. Perhaps I scrutinize more now than the average moviegoer because of this blog, but there were a few scenes that looked rushed to me. I was particularly annoyed when Steve Montgomery (Jordan) moved the BMW in the parking lot because it was clear the car was already poised for hoisting as evidenced from the extension of the tires in the wheel well. The car just looked completely spliced into the scene as it moved, making me groan. Other effects of telekinesis were excellent, as I expected, since the technology to simulate that power onscreen should be basic by now.


AV: At the core, I really liked this movie. A little cultish, more than a little predictable and chuck full of characters I really didn't care as to whether they lived or died. The acting was ... "meh". The story was OK, but there was something immersive about the whole experience. It seems as though hollywood is going through a similar awakening of this genre that occurred in the 1960's which birthed the the whole 'unlikely hero' story line with the likes of Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, The Hulk & of course, the X-Men. It will nice to see this film-making strand evolve. Super-powered teenagers are common (X-MEN, No Ordinary Family, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and Sky High to name a few) but this had an edge. I don't want to overstate this movie, it was well done, but really offered no credible new experience. Your thoughts, Ponty?

TP: There was drama. There was humor. There was action. There was also a lot of unanswered questions which worked in the movie’s favor considering the total presentation of the film. How did they get their powers? I saw, but never really understood. What were the limits of their powers and what effect did they have on their bodies. I saw, but never really understood. This to me added a great deal to the film since it was presented from their perspective... how much would any of us really understand about that situation analyzing it with our high school minds? I think this was brilliant as it added a realism to the movie that the movies I listed as similar above, didn’t have. It also left the door wide open to a future installment that could possible answer some of these questions.


AV: I don't see a need for a sequel in this one, but that hasn't stopped Hollywood in the past. We really need to get Hollywood to continue to hammer out new and different story lines. That said, this was a decent effort, albeit not new. We don't need another Chronicle, though I would love to see many more solid attempts like it in this genre.

TP: Oh Vader-Nader, I see potential here. How much further will Matt’s (Russell) power grow? How will he live in a world where it may not be known where he is, but the authorities know who he is? What was it they found...and were they the only ones to find it? These questions are just the tip of the iceberg in the polar cap that could be a sequel. They can even continue that unique feel of the film... since cameras are everywhere, it would still be a “chronicle” of what happens next.

ARTH VADER Rates Chronicle: A so-so story, fresh faces and some decent, if not eye -popping SFX puts Chronicle in a good spot on the must-see list. While you don't need to view this on the big screen, it is a good time–with a few twists and some thought provoking 'what-if' scenarios. Fun, brainless and full of bland characters, this one might easily be forgotten soon, but I use my new-found powers for good and bust seven blocks for Chronicle.
THE PONTIFICATOR Rates Chronicle: A very interesting and engaging movie with terrific action and special effects, I felt it could have been better, but understood and appreciated what it was... and respect the seven blocks it busted.
Chronicle: 7/10 Busted Blocks

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