Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chronicle Review (Spoiler Free)

Just got back from seeing a sneak preview of Chronicle, and honestly all I can say is 'Wow!' Before I get into the review (which as always, is free of any spoilers), I just want to rant for a minute on the asinine policy some screeners have for cell phones. This particular screening security was wanding people as they went in, and if you had a cell phone or tablet, etc. they wanted you to check it in with them. The only thing was that the 'contract' they have you sign says that if your electronic device goes missing, it's not the theater's or the employee's responsibility. Having seen this game before, I knew at the end of the screening, they dump all the phones, etc. on the table and rely on the 'honor system' of people to not steal someone else's stuff. Long story short, I ran a little confusion play that got me past the guards with all my electronic stuff firmly in my bag. Seriously, the projectionist is more liable to record a bootleg version at a sneak peek than someone in the audience. 

With that said, Chronicle is a story about three high school guys who get super powers. Yeah, yeah, you've seen this one before, right? Nope. First off, the whole movie (or at least a good majority of it) is filmed by one of the guys named Andrew. Andrew isn't a nerd, but he isn't popular mainly because he's withdrawn due to a fairly shitty home life. Matt is Andrew's cousin, and they go to the same school. Matt isn't popular, but he isn't invisible like Andrew. Matt is the average high schooler. Then there's Steve. Steve is popular, running for class president, but a genuinely nice guy, not a douchebag. Steve knows Matt, and that's how this trio ends up together at a barn party where they get their powers.

Their powers are actually telekinesis. Telekinesis (for the uninitiated) is the ability to move or manipulate objects with the power of the mind. A majority of the movie is spent with the guys learning how to control their powers and use them in different ways. It's through this growth that the guys start to realize that Andrew is not only strong, but he lacks a few morals as well. This does lead to a final scene that is laden with special F/X and a fight that is not only well done given the small budget, but makes you feel for the characters as well. 

The refreshing thing about this movie (besides the lack of shaky cam), is that the writers deliberately avoided mentioning comic books, pop culture references, or any other superhero kind of reference that lesser writing nerds would have been leaning on as a crutch since page one. Why is it refreshing? Just because it's a movie about guys that gain superpowers, doesn't mean that we need to carpet-bombed with hackneyed references to Superman, Spider-Man, or Star Wars. Even those of us that read comics and play video games get tired of the, quite frankly, insulting pandering writers will shoehorn into a script just to try to make it feel like a 'comic book movie'. Stop the self awareness, we get it already.

There's one scene in this movie which has become my favorite. Andrew is dressing up into his dad's old firefighter outfit set to the strains of Ziggy Stardust while the camera floats and circles over his head. Trust me, when you see the scene, you'll wonder why no one ever thought of it before since it works so well in its simplicity and the song works oh so well in a superpowered movie. 

So in conclusion, the movie is more character development BUT you do get action dispersed throughout with a huge explosion of action at the end. Very well done, and well balanced. When you can feel empathy for the bad guy, you know the writer has done a great job. I would say that if there was one drawback to the movie, it would be the CGI. It's not great, but given that the movie was made for a rumored $15 million, it can definitely be forgiven. 

Rating: Full price ticket, multiple viewings. Get out there and see this one if you want to see something different.

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