Release Date: February 3, 2012
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: Joshua Trank
Screenwriter: Max Landis, Joshua Trank
Starring: Dane DeHaan, Michael B. Jordan, Alex Russell, Michael Kelly
Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for intense action and violence, thematic material, some language, sexual content and teen drinking)
Official Website: Facebook
I think Max Landis and Joshua Trank missed the mark with Uncle Ben’s famous phrase, “with great power comes great responsibility.” There’s certainly an interesting premise lying with “Chronicle,” but a poorly written script and terribly edited segments made for a failed attempt at what could have been a great film.
Thanks to the efforts of director M. Night Shyamalan, who helped to deconstruct the superhero genre, and Christopher Nolan who turned into an art form worthy of recognition, the superhero/comic book movie is a much more widely accepted and enjoyed piece of cinema that has taken American theaters by storm summer after summer. But the question which has been on everyone’s minds as of late is this…When will the comic book movie faze end? My answer…if Chronicle is an example of what’s to come, I suspect the end is nigh!
The film attempts to address the old question of “what if?” What IF I had super powers? Three high schools students make an amazing discovery on the outskirts of a senior party that changes there lives; Andrew Detmer, (Dane DeHaan) a skinny freshman who always seems to be the butt of every bullies joke, Matt Garrety, (Alex Russell) Andrew’s cousin and only silver lining in life, and Stephen Montgomery, (Michael B. Jordan) a young man living high on his popularity but always embracing the new and exciting.
With Andrew using his camera to document his life, he and his comrades dive down into a strange underground cave where they find a gigantic, Kryptonian styled device leaking radiation which gives this testosterone driven trifecta unimaginable powers of telekinesis, flight, strength, and more. As the three slowly develop and experiment with their new gifts, they in turn discover new things about themselves which raises question about their conduct and relationship with the rest of the world. But rules are not always going to keep someone’s dark side at bay.
As I’m sure you can tell from my introductory paragraph, Chronicle was nothing more to me than a film written by a young, energetic screen play writer who tried a little too hard to be inspirational and clever. Instead of Chronicle being this thought provoking and culturally analytical film that hoped to be some form of sociological commentary, the result is a much more convoluted and irritating script that gives its audience very little to be desired.
But don’t worry, you’ll be happy to know that the camera, no matter who’s holding it, will be getting everything on film despite the fact that he or she is falling at enormous velocity, not dropping the camera for an instant. Truly, these are some dedicated bloggers who have the drive of Lois Lane or Peter Parker.
The characters themselves were a confusing bunch, with no purpose other than being typical boys excited about having gifts no one in the world has. This idea is great in concept, but the execution is flawed and lacking. The emotional attachment for an audience is virtually nonexistent, with exception of Andrew and his physically abusive father. But even then, there’s never any real purpose behind the whole ordeal, and neither the dad or Andrew ever learn anything from their experiences.
Likewise, the film was constantly hopping from character to character, trying to determine who its protagonist was. Established early on in the film, Andrew’s camera played the part of the first person narrative until it jumped to third person, then back to first, and so on and so forth. Clearly, it was Andrew who was meant to be the focus of the story as he’s the one most impacted by everything happening around him. But intertwined with that are three to four separate story lines involving the other characters that tried to be just as important to the film, but ended up being more than the script could handle. As a result, not even a drop of closure in any of the film’s side stories, much less the main one, can been seen or heard.
The only part of the film that truly makes any sense is in the death of Andrew’s mother as it’s the only tangible thing we, as an audience can grab onto, keeping our minds from exploding over the random incoherent jargon radiating off of the screen. Even Stephen’s death within the lighting storm served very little purpose in Andrew’s inability to cope with his life. One thing led to another, and ultimately we come to a climactic final battle between two cousins that never delivered any sense of a moralistic storyline. It was nothing but chaos with no lessons learned.
Again, the blurred sense of protagonist and antagonist doesn’t help the film’s purpose, but even more so, the lack of an actual plot gives new meaning to the phrase “worthless film making.” The Blair Witch Project was not a good source to base the film’s visual side on, even though the physiological barrier of a video camera filming the entire story is intriguing in theory. There seemed to be more of an effort of having the characters, through their dialog, explaining to the audience why the first person video camera was important rather than simply going along with their life as is. I guess making a film for the sake of teen angst and drama is more important than producing a quality script and movie. Twilight is a prime example of that.
Now I completely understand that, if this were to REALLY happen, that if some high school boys actually did suddenly find themselves with powers, they would be so high on life that there only concern would be to get laid, showoff, and cause trouble. But within the context of a fictional story, bolstering itself to be life changing, thought provoking, and overly analytical, there needs to be some moral center which grounds the characters into a tangible and coherent storyline. Nothing like that exists here, and as an audience member, you’ll be left feeling uncertain of the film’s intentions and motivation.
While others may say they got it and understand Chronicle’s premise and intent, there really is NOTHING for you to hold onto. It’s a film unworthy of the time and money put into it, much less the hype that was pouring out from pre-release conversations. Be warned, movie goer, you may actually walk out of this movie dumber than you were walking in.
“I am the Apex Predator”….and no Niche? Come on now!
P.S. I think you all should know my disdain for Max Landis. I wonder if he’s ever truly understood a Superman story to begin with? Clearly his understanding of what makes good comics and comic book movies has seeped into Chronicle, and it really isn’t all that impressive.