I admit that I didn’t see much advertising for Chronicle. Just one or two teaser trailers that reminded me of that super lame flick, Jumper, or whatever, from a few years ago. But my husband wanted to see it and I wasn’t in a mood to argue so we spent an hour and a half in a packed theater last Friday night surrounded by loud, chatty teenagers – another bad sign, I thought, as the lights went down. Then something wonderful happened. Chronicle began and from the very start, it held my interest. Within the first 20 or 30 minutes, I knew how wrong my preconceptions had been. Honestly, the movie was phenomenal! Not at all what I thought it seemed.
There were some holes. And like everyone else, I, too, am getting tired of the shaky camera fake documentary style of cinematography sweeping filmmakers the world over. But I thought it actually worked in Chronicle‘s case. Unlike The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield and the Paranormal Activity flicks, whose shaky, quaky filming and awkward camera angles took much, much away from the overall story, the “found footage” idea added nuance to the already dark, foreboding feel Chronicle established in its first scene. It seemed like maybe it was low-budget, or lower than most action movies anyway, and again, I think that added to its appeal. I’m not saying it wouldn’t have also worked if it had been shot in standard cinematography style, and maybe I’d have enjoyed it even more, but it sort of fit, in my opinion.
People are calling this a super hero movie and I absolutely see why, but I think what sets it apart from the super hero genre is what makes it so damn good. Three teenagers stumble upon something that gives them a supernatural ability but instead of trying to save the world, or destroy it, they remain, in essence, teenagers, who play with their new gift as any 17 year-old would. They show off, they get hurt, they learn and eventually, one of them takes it farther than he should. No one tries to rule the world. No one tries to save humanity from evil-doers. They are just people, kids playing with their new toy in a way every member of the movie’s audience will understand and relate to. I’m afraid to say much more lest I give away all the subtle intrigue that kept my eyes glued to the screen.
I will also say that it isn’t a totally original story in that the general plot and outcome were vaguely predictable, but I mean that in a very generic way. Like, predictable as almost all movies are. We all know that the boy and the girl will likely get together in the end of a romantic comedy, right? It doesn’t mean it can’t be good. Such is the case with Chronicle. And it is good. Really, seriously, extremely fucking good. Surprisingly dark and dramatic, never campy, and held together by the excellent performances given by its three leads. I even thought several times throughout that I couldn’t wait to write the review of it. Which isn’t something I’ve been able to say about most movies lately.
Films that cross genre lines are, generally, more interesting for it and this is another fine example. Part super hero flick, part mockumentary, part thriller, completely a drama with a dash of sci-fi, Chronicle is the video…well…chronicle, of a story you want to see.