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Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Intense action and violence, thematic material, some language, sexual content and teen drinking.
Science Fiction, Suspense
Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly, Ashley Hinshaw, Anna Wood, Joe Vaz
Max Landis, Josh Trank
Three high school students make an incredible discovery, leading to their developing uncanny powers beyond their understanding. As they learn to control their abilities and use them to their advantage, their lives start to spin out of control, and their darker sides begin to take over.
Chronicle (2012) | Review
What Do You Do With Power?
Part coming of age story and part superhero/sci-fi tale, the movie is shot with handheld cameras in a way that should encourage the fans of the latest handheld horror films, but the content is much more than about jumping out and scaring you. Writer/director Josh Trank was the man behind Spike's The Kill Point, which was pretty stellar in its own right, and he's teamed up with Max Landis to produce a film that defies expectations, and appears spectacularly in high definition (with or without the director's cut).
None of the boys has had a textbook childhood, but the way that their new found powers affect them is significantly different from one teenager to another. Audiences don't have to work too hard to figure out that Andrew will go rogue at one point and that the other guys will have to try to stop him (it's a bit of the Clark and Lex Luthor mythology, depending on the version). But along the way, there's significant childhood/teenage trauma to deal with, like the death of friends and family, the rejection by the community, and the maturity that sometimes comes with experience and new situations.
But this is just as much a morality tale with a science fiction bent. It's definitely entertaining stylistically, even as my eyes and brain adjusted to the wavering, rolling, and ever-changing angles of the camera. The special effects are depicted wonderfully, too, as the teens move objects, fly, break things, battle, etc. It's similar in its "realism" to what Percy Jackson & The Olympians should've looked like. On a budget of $15 million, it's amazing that this took in $123 million-plus, but it might be the best sci-fi movie you didn't hear of ...; and should go out and rent/buy.
Complete with the theatrical and directorial cut, the digital download, deleted scene, and camera test, the movie doesn't necessarily roll out a script that's predictable in its conclusion, but the questions raised are significant even as I watch the high definition for full enjoyment factor. Sure, there's some comic book value ("with great power comes great responsibility"), but this is one of those movies that belies its style, advertising, and budget to ask us what we'd do with power if it was in our hands, and how we're dealing with the hurts that life has dealt us up until this point. It's a rocking ride of a film, and one that you should be running to get your hands on, like a powerful underground crystal (although you might want to avoid that ...)
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