Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I genuinely loved the fucked out of "Chronicle".  When I first saw the trailers for this movie I had no idea what I was in for, it either was the latest gimmicky "found footage" movie, or a seriously cool concept about teenagers using the Force to screw around with people.  It was one of the most intriguing trailers I've ever seen, something I immediately had to bookmark away for future posting.  And boy am I glad I did, because this movie kicks ass.

A few years ago, there was a plan to remake the anime classic "Akira" as a live action American film.  Immediately all true anime fans freaked out, claiming that this would bastardize the original movie and ruin everything it stood for.  And like so many Hollywood projects, it collapsed under its own weight and never amounted to anything but a pile of discarded scripts and lost dreams.  This caused much rejoicing in anime circles, but I was not among of them.  First of all, I'd rather not be the kind of person who wishes for less movies to be made, if somebody wants to make a movie they should be allowed to express themselves that way.  Heck, good or bad, my review gets written anyway and you readers win either way.  Honestly, "Akira" could have been really awesome in live action - especially the final transformation sequence which is still the most disturbing and awesome scene in anime history.  I bring up "Akira" because "Chronicle" is basically that - the Western adaptation of that story.  And let me tell you, every person who complain about an American "Akira" was dead wrong.

If you're willing to forgive some gushing, I really loved this movie.  It was fun, the character arcs were deep, the action was great, and beat of all, the concept is both unique and executed brilliantly.  Best of all, its well shot - I'll explain how a found-footage movie could be well-shot in a moment.  "Chronicle" is the best found-footage movie I've ever seen, by far.  Remember I hate found-footage movies, so that might be damning with faint praise.  So let's give some hard praise, continue reading:

Now, I hate found-footage movies, this is just a thing about me you're going to have to accept.  So far the only one I enjoyed was "Apollo 18", a ludicrous moon monster movie that came out last year.  The rest were roughly equal shades of terrible.  What "Chronicle" does different is immediately do away with the idiotic concept that "this is real footage we found somewhere".  There's no frame story here, its simply a regular movie that just so happens to be filmed entirely from real-world cameras.  At one point the main character loses his camera, and I think he never gets the footage off it again, its simply gone.  We're able to see through that footage thanks to the omniscient POV of filmmaking*.  And they do not exclusively use just one camera, there are several POVs we get, allowing us to have scenes away from the main character.  They also use public cameras to give multiple view points, so you can actually see the action, unlike most found-footage movies that drop the camera and let you only hear screams.  No, you see the big final fight here, and its awesome.

Since the main characters have telepathic powers, they move objects in the air.  This includes the camera.  So actually the main hero is a really accomplished cinematographer, since he's able to float the camera around himself to get all kinds of angles and stuff.  In some action scenes, since the camera is floating anyway, you're basically watching a regular movie.  It also means you can actually see the main character, and seeing the main character's face gives the actor a lot more freedom to act.  Since the main kid is an amazing actor, this is all to "Chronicle"'s favor.

Anyway, as for story, let's jump into it.  The main kid is Andrew, the most pathetic human being to ever step into a high school.  His mom is dying of cancer, his dad is a drunken abusive asshole, there are bullies outside his house, there are bullies in school, he has no friends other than his pretentious cousin Matt, who doesn't particularly like him, and he's a virgin.  There's also something strange about Andrew's face that makes everybody in this universe want to punch it.  Andrew must get his face punched by four different people in the first ten minutes alone, its amazing.  So Andrew buys a camera in order to film his life.  This how the movie justifies the 'found-footage' gimmick, because unfortunately that's what all found-footage movies have to do.  Andrew goes a rave party with Matt, and together with the super popular Black boy, Steve, they find a hole in the ground that's pulsating some kind of sound.  Andrew is roped into going down into the cave, where they find an alien crystal.  Weirdness ensues, lots of nosebleeds, and then... camera goes out.

When the three boys wake up, suddenly they all have psychic powers.  No explanation is given at all.  Since psychic powers are really cool, they start hanging out and refining their strength.  Eventually they learn how to fly, they can pick up cars, they go full Tetsuo and full Superman.  Unfortunately, this has some really negative consequences.  Matt and Steve are both perfectly well-rounded individuals with plenty to live for.  Andrew does not, everything in his life is going wrong rapidly.  As I mentioned before, the pressures he's under would be enough to break anybody down.  And now he's breaking down with the power of a God.  Bad things, naturally, ensue.  He out does Anakin Skywalker in crazy.

Its hard to blame Andrew for going Carrie White and rampaging his way through Seattle.  Obviously the guy has just about the worst life you can ask for, and he's been punched in the face so long that every helping hand that comes his way is a threat.  I blame Andrew's dad, a completely worthless human being (that is admittedly dealing with a dying wife but was probably an asshole before this) who poisons Andrew's mind constantly in order psychologically dominate him.  Andrew's final break into pure villainy comes right after his Dad tells him something along the lines of "they're not your friends, they're all gonna laugh at you".  Okay, I made up the last bit, but he might as well have said it.  But Andrew's case in "Chronicle" does make it pretty clear:  the weakest and nerdiest kid in school can be just as terrible of a monster as the biggest bully.  Just give him some psychic powers and the results will speak for themselves.

"Chronicle" is a damn good movie with a complex morality tale behind it.  Its a tragedy that earns its tragic ending, the character's own personalities lead them straight to the very sad conclusion.  Personally I think "Akira"'s ending is a Hell of a lot more awesome, especially because Andrew never explodes into a giant mass of uncontrollable growing wild flesh, but this movie I feel has much better characters and a clearer plot.  Anyway, I really cannot find any complaints about "Chronicle", and if you know me, that's a rare thing.  I'm always complaining, so this movie really is that awesome.  Not "Drive" awesome, but damn good.

* Which is probably the only explanation for how you're able to see "Apollo 18"'s footage.


  1. Minor nitpick: You used the word "telepathic" to describe their ability to move things with their minds, but that's actually telekinesis. Telepathy is mind reading.

    Well, since this movie has both yours and Movie Bob's recommendations, I really want to see it. If I could have just one superpower of my choice, it would be telekinesis.

  2. Hmm. It seems slightly interesting. To be completely honest, I don't think I've ever seen a found-footage movie, so I had to go look up the definition of the genre before I read this review. I can see why you don't like the idea of it in general, but this movie definitely seems uniquely interesting, so I think I'll go give it a watch if I can.

  3. I loved this movie. It calmed my inner nerd immensly. I loved how instead of just showing Andrew transforming from a decent guy to dickhead in 5 seconds they gradually showed why he desecnded into madness. That's great movie making right there. This is why they should let writers be creative with new ideas rather then remaking old. But to be a Douchy McNitpick here in places where you have telepathic you should have telekinesis. Telepathic is mind reading and Telekinesis is moving odjects with your mind.

    1. I must nitpick your nitpick by telling you that I already nitpicked that.

    2. Ah, sorry to nitpick your nitpick with my repetitived nitick. Didin't see your comment up there.

    3. And now more nitpicks are added to the nitpick pile: "repetitive" does not have a "d" on the end.

      Normally, I would have ignored that spelling error, but I wanted to keep this going.