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Chronicle


A common argument these days regarding the film industry is a lack of imagination. Creativity in story, genre, style, what have you, is lacking. Personally, I feel this is a very narrow view as the only lack of creativity is coming from the blockbuster films that crowd your airways, Internet sites and magazines. Lesser-known directors working on smaller budgets are proving there is still room for innovation within these overdone themes. For Chronicle, the film itself lands somewhere between the blockbusters and the indie films. For its director, Josh Trank, a bright future of innovation and creativity lies ahead.

Grade:

I’ve applauded directors before for being deliberate in their scene choices. Yes, the acclaim should be extended to the editors, producers and rest of the crew, but we’ll stick with the final say. Anyway, the difference between a film with filler sequences and a film that is utilizing its time wisely is intensely noticeable. Chronicle is another found-footage/faux documentary style movie. It’s shaky and odd, but so carefully planned out for each and every scene you have to look into it more than normal. This becomes clear after the three friends discover the powerful rock/asteroid/life-form (?) that gives them telekinetic powers. Andrew (Dane Dehaan), the social outcast, begins using the camera as his way of documenting his growing power, in addition to its previous purpose of catching the despair in his life on film. Even the mandatory high school party becomes a chance to delve into the main characters’ psyches.

By using interruptions, broken cameras, and outside interaction, such as bullies taking the camera, Trank’s choices make you feel like an active player within the film instead of objective observer. You may not have any lines, but everyone knows you’re there. When Andrew begins subconsciously controlling the camera to essentially be in orbit near him, you feel almost like his guardian angel, except one who finds that your subject is annoying. Even as the film regresses into the expected outcast meltdown and subsequent end-all fight, Trank stays true to his vision of keeping the film solely from cameras present in the Chronicle realm. Police helicopter, bank security, skyscraper apartment birthday party. All of these are used as opportunities for the action to be captured from a different view and provide an excuse to remain with the theme without fabricating a ridiculous reason why Andrew’s camera would still be following him.

In keeping with the deliberate theme, I am avoiding the rest of the film for a reason. It’s highly mediocre. Chronicle is a mix of superhero, bullying, teen angst, and shoddy special effects. Portraying telekinesis in a live action film is difficult, no doubt, but Chronicle seemed to have focused its budget elsewhere. The acting is a bright spot as DeHaan and his pals, Alex Russell as Andrew’s cousin and Michael B. Jordan as the future politician/popular guy, have a decent rapport and deliver their lines naturally. The character arcs are minimal, but realistically, there is only so much that can be done. The onus of the film is on style, not substance.

Chronicle is a difficult film to firmly decide upon because apart from the camerawork, the rest is kind of underwhelming. An unfortunate truth considering the fact that the characters and plot, mostly, stay true to what teenagers would probably do if given such extraordinary capabilities. The denouement tries to cater to the Hollywood ending, but is out of place since the rest of the film is the exact opposite from the typical Hollywood superpower film. Chronicle ends up being similar to Super 8 in look and feel (look at the posters). I look forward to seeing what Trank does in the future because Chronicle showed some potential for some well-made films.

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  1. I really liked this film 😀

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