Now I must correct myself, I previously said in an old review for Super 8 (2011) that I remember the trailer, clearly after seeing Chronicle (2012) that is all rubbish, it was for this film which doesn’t try to be a Steven Spielberg homage, instead this is something much more interesting in its own right. It’s the voyeuristic aesthetic of the film that I remember from the trailer, which we don’t have at all in Super 8 which is a completely different film. Anyway lets move on from the slight confession and look at what made me want to talk about this film. I’ve only seen a handful of films that are almost exclusively filmed from the point of view of a personal camcorder, I attempted to watch Unfriended (2014) which goes further to the view of the computer screen and just became annoying…very fast.
You’d have to be living in a cave in the remotest part of the world to have not noticed that a whole generation has grown up with a view of the world perceived completely from the view of the a mobile phone, filming and capturing images from a tiny camera hidden within, recording anything and everything that takes the users curiosity, for fun, for work. Chronicle pre-dates that…slightly, there are even more home-videos uploaded to my own social media streams. I’m sure you can relate to that even if you switch between reading this reviewing and your own feed.
When your own personal footage forms a feature-length narrative things begin to change, you have to fill it with characters, a plot, twists and development beyond that of what just in front of you. Of course the majority of the camcorder work for Chronicle was probably completed with industry standard cameras, not ones for home use. However the look of the film is that of the home-video or vlogger who carries it around with them. What begins as a personal thing for Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan) who is out to prove and recorded his abusive dad’s behaviour, a visual weapon in his domestic fight for survival, whilst his mother is bed-bound with an unknown condition. This could be just another teenage experience film, which really doesn’t interest me unless there’s a twist to it all.
Thankfully there is one. That’s after we first do some exploration of the teenage world of the high-school, one I’m glad I was never around, a dog-eat-dog world of popularity and over achievement which can either make or break you. Making for a pretty standard teen-drama for the first few minutes before his cousin Matt Garetty (Alex Russell) asks him to join him and class president candidate Steve Montgomery (Michael B. Jordan) who have found a massive hole in the ground. Brought along merely to record the life-changing event down below. A luminescent crystal-like structure that draws them in, more from excitement and the thrill, it excites the young men who are changed for life by the experience – giving them superhuman powers, that of telekinesis.
Of course like every new experience during adolescence, this ability proves be fun as they explores what they can do with it. The three of them naturally are at different stages, like learning to walk, each with different level of progress. We see early on that Andrew is a quick learner and obviously know how to focus his power. Its like the early days of X-Men only with some messing about, we don’t have the number characters to create the drama of that scale. There’s no real rivalry between the three young men at this point.
Things start to change for them boys and the audience when the special effects are still subtle and fun, we know they are adding things in post-production so they are floating at their command. When they start to fly, things start to really get fun and potentially dangerous, leading the film into other directions, they are growing, learning what they are capable of. It’s really exhilarating to watch, like the first time we saw Superman flying on the big-screen, it has that sense of wonder, freedom and youthful energy. Yes it probably involved a lot of C.G.I., wires and green-screen to achieve these shots, but the finish is so clean and subtlety done that this time I don’t care because I’m caught up in the moment that you’re taken aback when the plane flies through the shot, knocking you out and them out of the sky.
We start to enter the realm of X-Men – Magneto and Xavier as the powers are used more overtly. It’s one thing to use the power for a magic trick, when it comes to keeping your mother medicated things get serious for Andrew who uses his powers that are growing, under his mentality of the “Apex human” the top of the evolutionary food-chain, combined with his abusive home-life he begins to unravel and reveal who he truly is. This is where we can no longer stay in the realm of camcorders, having to rely on CCTV and other surveillance to record to the action as it occurs, cutting straight to these fixed positions to build up the image that is the film. Striving to be more immersive for the audience, removing the conventional camera angles for those of the domestic to capture this cinematic moment as two friends fight to hold on to each other. The Magneto lashes out at the world around him whilst the Xavier tries to save him from himself.
If I had to be negative and fair about this film, I would have to show my disappointment at killing off the only black character, even though it allows for character development, it shows that we have a white on white fight at the end. All originally friends, it wouldn’t really matter if Matt was killed off instead, they same result would have lead to this resolution. In the climate of the lack of Black on-screen depictions Chronicle suffers from this deficiency in the final act, would it be seen as more racially motivated, friendship should overrule that thought.
This entry was posted on November 20, 2016 by timneath. It was filed under Films and was tagged with Alex Russell, Chronicle, Dane DeHaan, Magneto, Michael B. Jordan, Professor Charles Xavier, Social Media, Steven Spielberg, Super 8, Superman, Unfriended, X-Men.