Chronicle – A Preview

One of Mark Millar’s latest character creations was an individual so highly advanced when it came to martial arts and all forms of weaponry that he could predict everyone else’s moves before they even knew what they were doing themselves. No one knew his true identity. He was violent, brutal and he was the biggest criminal of our time. Essentially, in Mark Millar’s graphic comic “Nemesis,” Batman becomes the Joker. The novel tried to answer the question “What would happen if superpowers fell in the wrong hands?” and that is the same question that is being asked in Josh Trank’s debut film Chronicle.

Chronicle follows three high school friends: Andrew (Dane DeHaan), Alex (Matt Garetty) and Steve (The Wire’s Michael B. Jordan) who gain superpowers after making an incredible discovery. What at first seems like a gift turns into a curse as their friendship and minds are tested as they try to struggle with the temptation of turning to the dark side and using their powers as a force of evil.

Thematically, the film looks like an interesting prospect as most people at one time or another have thought about what superpower they would like to have and what they would do with it. In the movies, this scene is generally predictable and clichéd. A struggle ensues but the protagonist ultimately chooses the righteous path and uses the new-found powers for good. However, Chronicle shows the teens dealing with their powers in an interesting, yet real way; playing childish pranks and testing the limits of their powers. I am very interested to see how they show the development of each character, with one of the friends ultimately choosing a darker path, to see if it will be in keeping with the film’s realistic nature.

The only thing I’m not looking forward to seeing is the faux-documentary style it has been shot in. Since The Blair Witch Project was released in 1999 — rewroting the rulebook on how to make a successful film — there has been a glut of handheld camera and “found footage” movies. They’re cheap to make and audiences flock to the screens. Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity and The Fourth Kind are just a few examples. Even George A. Romero jumped on the bandwagon with Diary of the Dead. I enjoyed The Blair Witch Project enough, but the problem created by its success is that by spawning so many rip-offs, the thrill is gone and you’ve no doubt seen it all before, which leaves you with a shaky, unwatchable screen.

I recently watched two films that gave me hope for the “found footage” genre — Lake Mungo and a Norwegian film called TrollHunter, which I highly recommend.

With director Josh Trank wanting the film to move away from your average found footage movie, let’s hope we have a surprise new addition to the superhero genre that is more akin to District 9 than Paranormal Activity.

Chronicle opens nationwide on March 15.

(First printed in March’s issue of Groove Korea Magazine)

Categories: Film, Previews

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