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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The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

I Don’t Care What You Put in My Way.  I’m Not Giving Up!

Left to my own devices, I feel like I would never have watched today’s movie.  It’s not that it looked bad, but all it seemed like to me was Matt Damon and Emily Blunt running away from a bunch of guys wearing hats.  And that was EXACTLY the script that I was working on!  I had to put that aside when my friend Phil recommended that I watch the movie.  I was able to find the movie in a local RedBox and give it a watch.  The movie is The Adjustment Bureau, written and directed by George Nolfi, and starring Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Anthony Mackie, John Slattery, Terence Stamp, Michael Kelly, and Jon Stewart.

David Norris (Matt Damon) is a Congressman that’s running for the US Senate, but he gets pwned for some reason when a picture comes out that he mooned somebody in college.  And since he was the only person who’s ever done that, he loses the election.  While preparing his speech in the bathroom, he meets a woman named Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt), hiding from security after crashing a wedding upstairs.  After a bit of conversation and a kiss, Norris is inspired to not perform his rehearsed speech, instead delivering a candid speech about his loss, which makes him an instant favorite for the next Senate race.  Months later, Norris is on his way to work and being watched by a man in a hat named Harry Mitchell (Anthony Mackie), who is told by another be-hatted man named Richardson (John Slattery) that he needs to make sure Norris spills his coffee on his shirt.  While waiting for Norris, Mitchell falls asleep and misses his opportunity.  As a result, Norris gets on the bus on time and sits next to Elise.  Norris gets them digits before he departs the bus and goes to work.  At his office, he finds that everyone is frozen in time, and the group of be-hatted men are doing something to his associates with a glowing stick.  But not probing them.  That would be weird.  Norris attempts to escape, but is captured by the men.  They inform Norris that they are called the Adjustment Bureau and their job is to make things go according to “the plan” set by “the Chairman”.  Mitchell’s failure has caused some trouble for them because Norris was not supposed to ever see Elise again and he was supposed to arrive to work late so that he would never have seen them working.  They let Norris back into the world sans Elise’s number, warning him that if he tells anyone about them, he’ll be lobotomized.

I really liked a lot of this movie.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was really cool.  The story was what I found hit and miss about this movie, but it was more hit than miss.  I thought the science fiction elements of the movie were all really interesting and really well done.  The Adjustment Bureau – though it was never clearly stated – were basically like angels to God, the Chairman.  And their whole job was to make slight adjustments to our lives so that we go according to God’s plan.  I thought this was a very interesting story premise with some really cool ideas to it.  The part that kind of lost me was the romance side of the story.  I can take a romance story, so it’s not just my overbearing masculinity that turns me off to it.  What kept bothering me was how much Norris was willing to risk (going up against angels, risking lobotomy, missing political obligations, etc.) just to hang out with a girl that he had talked to for a combined total of an hour.  I’m sure some people are all about the idea of love at first sight, and I know there was a mention of the fact that the original plan had Norris and Elise as soulmates before the plan was changed, but that’s a whole lot to throw down because the girl was really cute and you had some good chemistry with her for a little while.  I feel like I could be really into a girl after talking with her for an hour, and I may even ignore the guys with hats to talk to her for the third time, but after they kept doing everything they could to ruin it, I would throw out a “Fuck this” and go about my business.  And Norris took his sweet time getting wise to the fact that the hat guys were trying to throw a monkey wrench into his works.  Why didn’t he think that it was a little strange that his campaign manager showed up out of nowhere with an appointment that would separate him from Elise.  He even asked him how he knew where he was, and the guy’s response was basically just a shrug, but he didn’t put it together.  I also felt that making Elise a ballet dancer was an odd choice.  I guess it’s technically possible for a straight man to fall completely in love with a girl after seeing her dance, but my reaction was that it looked like they were doing slo-mo martial arts.  Granted, doing slo-mo martial arts would make me fall in love, but I’m also a straight guy.  And the ballet thing just creates problems for him anyway, because the lead be-hatted guy convinces him to ditch her by telling him that she’ll stop dancing if they stay together and wind up teaching dance to 5th graders.  I had a problem with this because I wouldn’t have taken issue with that.  Sure, it’s a selfish decision to put my desire to be with her over her own desire to dance, but there’s also no way in hell she’d ever know that I made that decision.  And she seemed to like his company anyway, so she’ll probably be pretty happy enough as my stay at home wife.

I was happy with all of the performances in this movie as well.  I thought the chemistry between Matt Damon and Emily Blunt was really good.  Their conversations were very real and you could get the understanding of how they would get charmed with each other so quickly, though I still think it’s bullshit.  I liked Matt Damon’s character as well, though he mostly seemed a lot like the real Matt Damon from what I’ve seen of him.  Just a down to Earth and likeable guy, but this one was a politician.  It’s the kind of politician I would probably vote for if I ever chose to start voting.  Especially after his big candid speech I thought to myself, “I wish that a real politician would do that so I could continue not to vote for any of them.”  Emily Blunt was very cute in her part as well, and for more than just her looks.  She was also very charming.  And, if that was indeed her performing the dancing, then she did that very well also.  I liked all of the be-hatted guys as well, but their roles meant that they should be toned down with the personality, though never to the point of being robotic.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that there is more to The Adjustment Bureau than just people running from people wearing hats.  The sci-fi part of the story was really interesting and well done, the romance was fine but a little farfetched, and the main characters were charming and had lots of charisma.  I definitely recommend giving this movie a shot.  I was able to find it at a RedBox for a dollar, and I know it was available on Netflix, though not for streaming, and it’s worth watching either of those ways.  I’ll probably buy the movie eventually too.  The Adjustment Bureau gets “Very few humans have seen what you’ve seen today” out of “I’m not some hopeless romantic.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.