It feels as though there’s now been a billion found footage films (Cloverfield, the Paranormal Activity films, [Rec], Troll Hunter) and there’s more to come (Project X – can’t wait for that one). Chronicle is another film to add to that list. This time we follow 3 high school students, Andrew (Dane DeHaan), Matt (Alex Russell) and Steve (Michael B. Jordan). Andrew starts to carry a camera around with him everywhere so he can record his boring, mundane life. But one night out in the woods they all discover something weird in a hole in the ground and life becomes much more interesting for them all… Slowly they begin to realise they’ve gained some sort of superpowers and what follows is Andrew filming them as they learn how to use them and decide what they will use them for: Good? Bad? Or nothing at all?

The whole found footage gimmick does feel like it’s starting to wear a little thin now, but Chronicle keeps it fresh by using slightly different subject matter (instead of the usual monsters or terrifying event that the characters are normally documenting in films like this). It’s also quite innovative in the way most of the footage is filmed – here Andrew uses his powers to hold the camera so it can follow him everywhere, instead of the usual method of one of the other characters always being offscreen; their only actual purpose being to film everything that happens.

The three boys in the lead roles are capable, if a little wooden sometimes. Dane DeHaan who plays Andrew is the best though, mostly because he gets a much more interesting storyline when things start to get too much for him and he slowly starts to crack…

The build-up of the ending is excellent and without giving too much away it portrays an explosive set piece ending that is often used in superhero films. And the use of cameras here (when we see things through onlookers eyes/cameras, etc.) puts you right in the middle of it and gives you a million different viewpoints all at once.

Would it work without it being a found footage film? Probably, but I think it’s a clever way of commentating on how much media is now all a part of our everyday lives – after all, how often do you now see footage on the news of certain events/disasters that were recorded by onlookers?

One thing comes into your mind when you watch Chronicle though – why didn’t anyone think of this before? So kudos to writer Max Landis (son of John) and writer/director Josh Trank for making something truly different. It’s a refreshing look at kids who get superpowers and who don’t do anything extraordinary with them for once, and how this sudden difference in power affects them all, especially Andrew.

There are probably a billion plot holes in Chronicle if you think about it all too much and there will still be lots of people questioning the whole found footage/filming everything angle. But just suspend your disbelief and enjoy this interesting, alternate look at the superhero movie.


~ by square-eyed-geek on February 16, 2012.

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