Sunday, February 19, 2012

Chronicle - Movie Review

Starring Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly, Ashley Hinshaw and Bo Petersen.  Directed by Josh Trank.


The "found-footage" genre, when done well, can be an excellent entertainment, like the first Paranormal Activity.  This one is cut from the same cloth, albeit with multiple cameras using higher-end equipment.

I could compare it to Cloverfield, which gave a fun twist to the monster movie, but with the shaky-cam so shaky it gave me motion sickness.  We don't get that problem here, thank goodness.

Ultimately this is the best original superhero-origin movie since Unbreakable.  It's really about three teenagers and what they do when they suddenly garner great power, like telekinesis and flying.

The cast is full of mostly unknowns, and the director lucked out with them.  Dane DeHaan is the shy one, Andrew, who decided to chronicle his life on camera even before the inciting incident.  He's 2/3 Leonardo Dicaprio and 1/3 Michael Pitt, and it's going to be fun to watch his career blossom (he has supporting roles in the upcoming The Wettest County with Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman, and The Place Beyond the Pines with Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes).  There's also Australian newcomer Alex Russell as Andrew's cousin Matt, and TV vet Michael B. Jordan (The Wire, Parenthood) as Steve, the most popular guy in school.

At a party that doesn't go too well for Andrew, Matt and Steve want him to bring his camera to film a hole they found in the ground.  The three go in, and let's just say after they see what they see, we cut to the next day and they've discovered they have telekinetic powers.  At first it involves levitating Legos but the more they use their powers, the stronger they become.

The movie does a good job of making us care about the characters and the journey they're taking.  It always gets me excited to watch fresh young talent show off what they can do, and yet in an unshowoffy manner. (Yes, I've thought of better words, but "unshowoffy" stays.)

Bottom line is that "found footage" is a device, a story-telling tool, and if your story's weak, the device won't help.  Here, it works great.

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