Chronicle (2012)

There’s Something Wrong With Andrew.

As best I can recall, the only thing that really inspired me to see today’s movie is Doug Benson talking about it on his podcast, Doug Loves Movies.  If I recall correctly, I believe he said that this movie was the best found footage movie he’s ever seen.  Doug has also indicated that he’s not a fan of the found footage genre.  Since I generally am a fan of the found footage genre, it got me to thinking that I really should give this movie a look.  When I came across the movie in a RedBox machine, I felt like its time had come.  And so we come to find out what I think of the movie Chronicle, written by Max Landis, directed by Josh Trank, written and directed by Jay Alaimo, and starring Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordon, Michael Kelly, Bo Petersen, Ashley Hinshaw, and Anna Wood.

Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan) is a weenie.  He lives with his mother, Karen (Bo Petersen), who is dying of cancer, and his abusive alcoholic father, Richard (Michael Kelly).  At random, he decides he needs to start filming his mundane life as a pussy.  Thankfully for the audience, something interesting finally happens in his life when Andrew, along with his cousin Matt (Alex Russell) and a popular student named Steve (Michael B. Jordan), investigate a strange hole in the ground with a glowing blue crystal in it.  When they touch the crystal, it turns red and the camera shuts off.  Next thing we know, the three kids have telekinetic abilities and can move things with their minds, and their abilities only improve over time.  At first, they mainly use their powers to play pranks on people, but this too elevates with use, and things start to go downhill because of it.

I was actually kind of surprised that I enjoyed this movie.  It has similar problems to other found footage movies, but altogether I thought it was a pretty interesting watch.  The story does the bulk of the work to make this movie enjoyable.  It starts off a little irritating, but still exciting.  For the bulk of the first part of the movie, it was just about a whiny little creepy voyeur.  The biggest issue I could take with the movie is that there was no good reason for Andrew to start filming in the first place.  Obviously there’s a decent reason to start filming everything in life once you’ve got super powers, but for a couple of days beforehand?  I understand it when it comes to making the movie because you need a little bit of set up before jumping into the movie, but I’m sure there was a more believable reason for Andrew to start filming.  Maybe he should’ve just gone full scale voyeur and have just been filming women getting dressed through their windows until he got super powers.  It’s also really irritating that there are apparently two people in this one school that feel the need to film everything, and Matt must get involved with her so that he can be filmed when Andrew isn’t around.  Once they got the super powers, I kept at least a little bit of my irritation because these three douchebags only ever used their powers for things that you would expect of high school kids: pranks and pussy.  They first use their powers to play little pranks on people, like making a teddy bear come to life and permanently psychologically scar a young girl, and moving a lady’s car so that she’ll be mildly puzzled when she returns from shopping.  Then they use it to get Andrew popular during a talent show so that he can have sex with a girl that looks an awful lot like Juliette Lewis, and I don’t mean that as a compliment.  But I started to realize by the end of the movie that my interest was slowly growing as the movie was amping up along with their powers, and by the end I was pretty invested.  As another shot against the found footage style they used for this movie, I don’t know why Andrew would film himself breaking the law.  Just so they would have evidence later or something?  But, either way, I found that I had liked the movie by the time it concluded, and I really liked the way it ended.  Didn’t much care for Matt’s little part after what I considered the ending, but it didn’t ruin it or anything.  It just felt unnecessary and a little strange.

The performances in the movie were all well delivered, but I didn’t necessarily like most of them.  Dane DeHaan was a huge puss and pretty irritating.  I suppose he had a good enough reason with what he was going through at home, but he really wasn’t pleasant to spend time with in the movie, and it seemed like his friends agreed for the most part.  Hanging out with someone like that can divide you.  Do you want to be a good person and try to brighten the life of this perpetually depressed person, or would he probably just bring you down and make you hate life as much as he does?  That’s a good question for all of my friends to put some serious thought into.  I also wasn’t a fan of Ashley Hinshaw’s character in the movie.  Granted Alex Russell’s character was a little hipster, a little pretentious, and a little too cool for school, and she was the only one that put him in his place for it, but she was also a bitch the rest of the time too.  Let the dude quote philosophers to make himself feel smart and just enjoy the smug satisfaction that he probably doesn’t know what he’s talking about half the time.  You don’t have to be the one to put him in his place, especially not when he’s just trying to talk to you normally or do something nice for you.  So I guess the two people in the movie that annoyed me the most were the two people that were randomly filming and had no good reason to.

I found Chronicle to be a very cool movie, but the found footage style got me wondering.  I feel like this movie would’ve been much better if they hadn’t wasted time and made themselves irritating by taking the found footage approach, but then I also don’t know if this movie would have stood out at all if it was just a generic super powered high schoolers movie.  The story was a little smarter than the basic super hero stuff, as it’s an interesting character study to see what happens to a person like Andrew when you give him super powers, and the movie gets more and more interesting as it goes along, so that by the end the fact that I liked it had snuck up on me.  I would say this movie is definitely worth a watch, but it was also probably hindered by the found footage style.  It’s definitely at least worth checking out in a RedBox.  Chronicle gets “I’m stronger than all of this!” out of “I’m an apex predator!”

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