Thursday, 9 February 2012


This review contains information which may diminish your viewing experience. 

Chronicle is the first superhero movie of the year, it may not be the biggest in terms of production budget, cast or hype but will definitely hold it's own against the likes of The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises.

Holy telekinetic teen angst Batman how can this be!

Well young chum, stick around and I might be able to figure us a way out of this!

Directed by first-timer Josh Trank and co-written by Trank and Max Landis (yes one of John's offspring) it focus's on the relationship between  three college kid's and the change in societal norms when they gain telekinetic powers.

Andrew (loner, abusive drunk father, doting son to terminally ill mother), Matt (philosophical, moral compass, older cousin to Andrew) and Steve (all-american nice guy, school president nomination, winning smile) happen upon a mysterious hole in the ground whilst at a school rave in the middle of nowhere. By this time Andrew has begun documenting his grey existence and families descent into oblivion by filming every waking hour on a regional BBC TV looking camera, for most teenagers investigating and filming a gaping crevasse is too good of an opportunity to miss so they promptly dive inside and find a veiny, pulsating crystal brain - or that's what it looked like to me!

We don't get a training montage at this point (even Rocky had a montage) but as you can imagine the boys set about honing and testing out their new found gift's by playing pranks on the general public and attempting small feats of telekinesis. We soon learn Andrew is the strongest and most accomplished of the three and here begins his metamorphosis socially and emotionally into the Magneto he will become.

Steve is the first to realise that the field's they are generating are strong enough to lift and propel themselves off the ground and so begins some wonderful sequences of pure joy (c'mon people everyone wants to be able to fly). They soar, they swoop, they probably eat a lot of bug's! This is only interrupted by the appearance of a passenger jet which knocks Steve unconscious and prompts Andrew to dive down and catch the immobile teen before he becomes street pizza. This bonds the three together even more tightly and even more time is spent together, even ignoring female attentions to build lego using only the power of their fragile teenage minds.

All of this is dutifully being captured on camera thanks to Andrew's purchase of a new camera using his sub-conscious telekinetic gifts to control it, this allows the film-makers to move the camera from a fixed position saving it from the same handycam fate as other found film genre movies such as Cloverfield.

A school talent show serves as the device to begin Andrew's descent into a eugenic, uber-darwinian version of Screetch from Saved by the Bell. Andrew is cajoled by Steve into performing a pseudo-magic act obviously using his power's to full effect, wowing the assembled 90210 type crowd and propelling him from school laughing stock into a less tanned version of David Copperfield.

This is the high point of the movie for Andrew, culminating in a projectile vomit blowjob scene with serves to push Andrew's tantrum levels to Defcon 1. This combined with Andrew's physical clashes with his father, and his mother's slide into Livinenko territory creates conflict within the triumvirate. This manifests as a 30,00ft stand-off between Steve and Andrew, obviously this doesn't go well for Steve and he feels the brunt of Andrew's shame and embarrassment in a Benjamin Franklin Stylee.

It can only end one way from here and Matt finds that family definitely comes first when you need to stop the rampage of a grief ridden, super-human, teenage Nick Broomfield clone.

Now young chum back to the reason why this will just keep it's head above water whilst I work a paperclip from my belt and pick this darn lock!!

The film borrows from pseudo-comic book films such as Unbreakable and Super, plus graphic novel's like John Arcudi's A God Somewhere, subverting the usual visual representation of a superhero and the black/white moral choices they have to make.

There are no capes, breathless damsel's tied to sinking pier's or loveable sidekicks quipping fast at every mishap, this film focuses on the school yard mentality, social perception and how changes in status or perceived status can affect these elements and in turn the people within them. This film could quite easily be set around three youngsters finding a winning lottery ticket, gaining more financial power but it is framed well within a science fiction setting which will always allow the filmmaker to explore ground not palatable in a more mainstream fictional-based setting.

The performances are solid and believable throughout and the story unfolds at the right pace turning it's 84min running time into more of a 60min feel. The circumvention of the static camera makes this a worthwhile alternative to the mainstream ultra-hyped blockbusters heading our way this summer. Most audiences will expect a grander more apocalyptic ending, but Chronicle is a film much like the territory it will occupy in this genre - low key but poignant.

So if you've had enough of Marvel, DC and Ridley Scott this summer use the force Luke and ask yourself the age old geek question - what would I do?

It's better than Ghostrider anyways!

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