Hello boys and girls! In this edition of “HST… Film Review,” Alan and Lauren break out the fighting words over Chronicle, the new film about a group of boys who gain superpowers. Don’t worry, no one was harmed in the making of this (spoiler free) discussion. And if someone was harmed it would be Alan. No, Lauren did not write this intro!
Lauren: Did someone say superpowers!? Then this movie sure is for me. At least until it wasn’t. To put it simply, I loved the premise of the film as any true nerd would, but I just couldn’t help but think that it could have been done more effectively, starting with a better protagonist.
Now before I come off like a cold-hearted B-word (which obviously I can’t be since I won’t even say the word), I will say that Andrew had me in the beginning. Similar to many a superhero, Andrew’s high school experience is riddled with classic outcast staples of the bullied ranks. Think Spider-man. On top of that, his home life is far from the safe haven of other kids his age, making it impossible not to feel for him. The problem is this sympathy is quickly tainted because there is just something about this character that didn’t feel right to me, thanks in large part with how quickly Andrew turns anti-responsibility with his powers. Let’s just say Uncle Ben would not be proud.
Alan: No he wouldn’t, but I am still going to have to disagree with you. Although I can’t really relate to his abysmal family situation (let alone the super powers), I can really get behind Andrew with the bullying situation. In fact, after thinking about the movie, it seems like this could be a WAY better form of an anti-bullying movie. Tell me if this sounds familiar – an outcast from everyone finally has power and ends up abusing it once he is pushed to his limits? With all of the news stories out there about bullied teens and the lengths they go (or went in some cases) through to get away from it all, Chronicle is almost refreshing in the way it approaches things of this nature.
Lauren: Well I wouldn’t really say shooting up a school is an “abuse of power,” but rewording that turn of phrase I understand where you are coming from. I just think that the film could have done a better job at providing this underlying message by creating a conflicted character instead of one with the character arc that Andrew has. But in the end asking me to sympathize with Andrew was like asking me to sympathize with the boys who shoot up their school in Elephant because they couldn’t find an acceptable way to deal with the situation they have been unfairly dealt. You wanna go with sympathetic psychotic teen? Watch the first season of American Horror Story instead.
Moving on from that depressing subject, why the heck was Andrew filming everything? In the first scene I assumed it was because he wanted to give his father a reason to be afraid of beating him, like he could show the footage to the cops or something. But then he takes it to school, where he seriously should have known that it would have made him even more of a target.
Alan: It very well might have been his security blanket. It helped him with his abusive crap dad, and it probably gave him the satisfaction of winning. He does state later in the movie that it is his barrier between everyone else and himself, so it could be his emotional and psychological shield blocking him from the rest of the world. Or, he could be the stereotypical outcast kid who just has a camera with him at all times. He could’ve made a case like the girl who video blogs her entire life, but he didn’t, which didn’t help anything.
But this movie isn’t just about Andrew, but also about his cousin Matt and one of his close friends Steve, who all stumble upon this…thing…and gain powers right afterwards. And for me at least, the three of them messing with their powers was a true highlight for me in the movie.
Lauren: Fun is had, for sure, but everyone knows that really wouldn’t be a satisfying way to put a Lego set together! As for the barrier, I just find it interesting that instead of going the invisible route, he makes himself more noticeable by strapping a giant camera to his hand. And in all honesty his father really didn’t seem to mind being filmed as an unfit parent, so I don’t really think the camera helped him there.
And don’t even get me started on the blogger girl! What was the point of her character, exactly? She gets a weird doorway scene with Matt, and later comes into play again at a kid’s birthday party, but in all honesty she was just a source of another camera feed.
The more I think about it, the worse the choice of using handheld cameras seems to me, and I am talking more than just how annoying those people who have to film everything can be (think Diary of the Dead). Which brings me back to questioning why he was filming stuff. At first it works really well, such as when they find the mystery object, but this style of filmmaking starts to turn against the film as it progresses, and often loses that glitch effect that I love so much. In fact, sometimes it looks far too cinematic and high quality as the camera slowly pans around conversations. Granted we see scene after scene of Andrew floating the camera around with his mind, so clearly he is a pro.
Also, why was the camera on when he was in the basement with his dad? Why was it set up on a tripod at the hospital? I can’t let these questions go, nor can I stop wondering who the heck made the film! Usually in something like this there is a screen in the beginning or end that explains that it was found footage, such as in Cloverfield or the handheld footage of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, but here this doesn’t happen. So who the heck compiled the footage? It bounces around from Andrew’s camera (including one that was lost) to the blogger girl’s camera to security camera footage just because it looks cool.
Alan: I wish they would’ve said how they got all this footage, especially the end shot (which I cannot spoil). Towards the end of the film, I think they kinda threw away the handheld camera gimmick once the final fight started happening (I don’t think that there was a camera at ground level zooming in on the main characters). With that said, I did enjoy the little gimmick where the POV bounced around everyone’s camera, which all happen to look like HD cameras. After a while of doing that though, I sat there wondering who is shooting what, and I guess the filmmakers decided not to dig too deep into who those people are.
I get the filming when they are playing around with their abilities. I mean, who wouldn’t want proof of you flying! That would be awesome, if of course we could fly. Overall though, regardless of how it was filmed and its bullying overtones, it was a mildly entertaining time at the theaters. The acting wasn’t bad (for what it’s worth), and the special effects, no matter how low their budget was, were spot on cool. It’s not a classic by any means; I thought it was still a nice time at the movies.
Lauren: Ok this went far more civil than I expected it to considering the intro I wrote, but I would have to agree. Unfortunately for me, though it was made well enough, minus how obvious the actors made it that they were sitting in harnesses while hovering (making it impossible to believe in their flying abilities at those moments), I still doubt Chronicle will make it into my need to watch again list. I just can’t stand the main character and the shooting style gets in the way of my enjoyment this time, so if I want a story of a damaged individual being pushed to the brink then I will stick to Magneto in X-Men: First Class.