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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Movie Review: Chronicle


With Chronicle, 2012 has its first great movie. It's easily the most exciting, watchable action/sci-fi film in months. What first-time director Josh Trank was able to accomplish on a shoe-string (at least by Hollywood standards) budget is so cool that it borders on unbelievable.

The story will be familiar to most who have watched any superpower origin tale. More specifically, the script owes a great debt to pioneering 80's anime classic Akira. Three teenagers, one of them weaker, more socially awkward, and ultimately more disturbed, start to develop mysterious powers after an incident outside of a party. Andrew, the younger/weaker of the three (played by the pitch-perfect Dane DeHaan) finds he's able to control his newfound abilities to a greater and more impressive extent than the others. But, due to circumstances not entirely under his control, the powers prove to be too much for him. And thus, we have conflict.

While the story's familiar, the execution is startlingly fresh. Sure, the "found footage" genre has been around for awhile, but until now, I'm not sure it's ever been exploited to its full potential. Viewing this incredible story through an everyday lens gives the film a naturalistic feel and makes the effects all that more shocking, real and... well... fun. And honestly, "fun" is what this movie's about. Not that it's super happy or anything, but it's certainly a jolt of guerrilla film-making. In a world of polished studio action movies, this feels more like a couple of (ridiculously creative) storytellers playing around. Of course, it helps that they've got a taut, wonderfully human story at the core. For as awesome and exciting as the set-pieces are, Chronicle doesn't take the easy way out. Its characters feel real and completely sympathetic. In other words, it's really got a bit of everything for everyone. And at just under 90 minutes, it doesn't overstay its welcome. What more could you ask for? A-




Anonymous Carol said...


Can you tell me about some great movies released this year? Many thanks in advance for your help! :)

5:21 PM  
Blogger Nancy Frye said...

Sounds like a good one. Too bad they didn't really shoot it in Seattle. :-(

3:12 PM  
Blogger Scott Stebleton said...

It is indeed a fantastic movie. And all the more surprising for being a February release—January and February are usually a dead zone when it comes to first-run film quality.

Between the full characterizations, believable acting, sharp script, and outstanding special effects, I am astounded that the film's budget was a mere $12 million. Makes you wonder where all the money spent on Green Lantern went.

On a related note, the film's writer, Max Landis, posted a devastatingly funny, withering critique of the death and return of Superman in comics, and it's very much worth checking out, even if (like me) you aren't a comics buff:

5:19 PM  
Blogger Scott Stebleton said...

Clickable link for The Death and Return of Superman.

5:20 PM  

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