Sunday, February 12, 2012
Movie Review: Chronicle
Lets start from the top; I am not the target audience for this movie. I am not an angst-ridden, troubled teen with parent issues, social withdrawal, and a constant need to video-document my every move.
At the same time, I truly like a good action-adventure yarn and, since I number among my favorite movies many other yarns aimed at a younger set (Despicable Me, How to Train your Dragon) I elected to see this one anyway.
The movie tells the story of Andrew (Dane DeHaan), a young man who has few friends and a bad home life, and his growing interaction with his cousin Matt (Alex Russell) and new-found friend Steve (Michael B. Jordan) as his separation grows with his parents.
When the movie begins we see Andrew having a tough home life. His mom is deathly ill and his dad is a broke, disabled former fire fighter. Meanwhile, only his cousin Matt speaks to him in any other way than bullying.
Unpopular at school, miserable at home, Andrew begins videotaping everything that happens.
Matt, trying to get him to become more personable, convinces him to go to a party where they meet Steve, popular soon-to-be class president, top athlete, smart guy and popular student. Andrew's video camera is needed, so Matt and Steve convince him to go down a hole with them where they tough a McGuffin and develop super powers.
At first they just play around with their powers, doing Jackass-like stunts, but soon their powers begin to grow.
As Andrew's home life gets worse, his friendship with Steve and Matt grows. In an attempt to help him become more popular, Steve convinces him to perform at a talent show which indeed increases his popularity...until he makes an embarrassing social gaffe at a party.
The difficult parts of his life overwhelm Andrew and, as he continues to videotape everything, his life spirals out of control. People begin dying and ultimately Matt and Andrew have a confrontation; can Andrew find friendship with his cousin or will the pressures on his young life lead to ultimate separation from family, friends and life itself?
Ultimately it is Matt who must make a fateful decision; can Andrew be allowed to continue to spiral out of control or, if not, can he be stopped by any means short of death?
The movie uses its platform to preach on several issues. Among these are the growing publicity as video blogs, you tube, and so forth make more and more portions of previously private life public and bullying.
This is a tragic tale of a young man who runs into too many pressures and ultimately documents his downward spiral and rejection of those who try to keep him away from it.
From a technical standpoint, the movie made a choice to shift back and forth between steady cameras and the shaky, cannot really track what is going on "real feel" made popular by The Blair Witch Project".
I understand why they did it. There are parts of the movie where it works. But there are parts of the movie where it does not. Allegory for public violence done to inner turmoil or not, action scenes should not be shot that way. It turns what might be a well-choreographed bit of entertainment into a cringe inducing, "what just happened?" bit of nonsense.
Ultimately, this story fell short. The focus changed too bizarrely, the resolution was unsatisfying, and the action not enough to make up for the various weaknesses. It has a few cheap laughs, a few pathetic moments, and an overall dreary feel that takes it out of the realm of entertainment without really doing a good job of addressing the potential issues.
Save your coin, watch it on Red Box...or not at all.