Reviews: Chronicle

A great idea, murdered by the direction

What we had here was an idea that was sabotaged by the way it was presented. This film has some good ideas, but in the end, the "found footage" nature of the work killed off any of the great things it could have done.

The found footage nature of the film hurts in several ways. First, it forces the camera to be justified by making the viewpoint character be a camera junkie. That one works reasonably OK, because it's actually part of the plot that he uses the camera as a means of distancing himself from others. The problem comes from the fact that the film needs to switch perspectives away from the viewpoint character. So they have to shoehorn another video blogger character in the story, who exists for no purpose other than to be another camera to switch perspectives with. It's really forced and obvious.

The next found footage problem is that the direction just doesn't help a lot of the scenes. During the big climatic fight at the end, the camera switches to various scenes from nearby cameras, CCTV footage, and random other POVs. This not only highlights the artificiality of the work, it also means that we're not getting good closeups of the actors delivering performances in many cases. The direction just doesn't work like an action scene should, and it feels very clumsy overall. Yes, I know it's a found footage movie, but that's my point: it hurts the other stuff the film is supposed to do.

The third problem is that a lot of scenes are really contrived just to allow the viewpoint character to talk. Things that would normally be conveyed by an actor acting and so forth are conveyed via monologues into cameras. This is far less effective of a storytelling mechanism, hence the problem. They work OK, but it could have been so much more if it were traditionally directed.

This film really shouldn't have been a found footage movie. It rarely helps the film. You don't get good scares or tension, and you don't feel like you're really part of the action. It doesn't feel more real or anything. It's all of the negatives of found footage without any of the positives.

A great idea, made crappy by the

After the Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield, I guess "Found Footage" was the new hotness in film. It let directors use crappy angles and shaky-cam to hide bad action or acting. But unlike Blair Witch or Cloverfield, which actually kind of tried to use the cameras in a somewhat realistic way, Chronicle does it very lazily. For example, Cloverfield is consistently shot from a handheld, eye-level perspective, because that's how a cameraman would use a camcorder. It's limited to one specific "videotape" because, well, it's "found footage" - this is the videotape that was found. It also implemented flashbacks by incorporating "taped over" scenes very well to cement the use of this trope.

In Cloverfield, the director knew both the advantages and limitations of "found footage" and used them very well. In Chronicle, they have no reason for incorporating "found footage", realized there were limitations, and then made sloppy excuses for when the "found footage" wouldn't be capable of showing a particular scene. The director wanted to have all the advantages, but none of the disadvantages, of the trope, which renders it pointless and therefore annoying.

One of the kids is just so obsessed with videotaping absolutely everything we get "found footage" of him walking through the halls on a normal day at school, him answering the door, etc. Yup, there's your explanation. We have all these normal, everyday scenes you find in normal films because this kid just wants to film every second of his life.

And when he gets his psychic powers, he uses his powers to keep the camera nearby and videotape everything as well. And to get camera angles that would be on a normal movie shot as well, but now it's "found footage"... uh, yay?

So yeah, the usage of this trope adds absolutely nothing at all to this film. It neither limits our viewpoint for a real purpose - in Cloverfield, for example, deliberately hiding the action keeps the tension up and maintains the mystery/fear of the monster. We cannot know what the characters don't know. Characters may see what we didn't see on camera, so we experience tension only through the characters' own fear. In Chronicle? Nope. Nor does it do anything different (you get city-spanning shots, high aerial shots, stuff like that... because psychic powers! found footage!) It serves no purpose other than making some of the camerawork shaky and deliberately low-quality.

Now, for the plot: it could have been pretty interesting. A bunch of teens get psychic powers. One of them is bullied at school and abused at home, so guess what happens? It's an interesting moral question. It's acted fairly well.

Overall the plot and the writing is decent, with an interesting premise, let down by deliberately poor camerawork and a poor excuse for using that trope.

Best superhero film ever

This movie is.....oh man, this movie. This is without a doubt my favorite superhero film of all time, and this is coming from a guy who isn't really a fan of found footage movies. It feels so darn REAL. I was completely convinced that these could be real people, and that someone could have pieced together all this footage. The acting is superb. There was no moment I thought someone was over or underacting. These characters felt like people I would meet in school (that means alot coming from someone who is actually still in school) and their emotional states and thoughts just leap right off the screen. The character development is great and totally natural, and as a result of how incredibly real it feels, it expertly plays with your emotions. The movie made me laugh and crack a huge grin only to later almost bring me to the point of tears (I've never cried at a movie.) The only other movie that's done that is Toy Story 3, which is loved by pretty much everyone. Move over Batman, Man of Steel, and The Amazing Spider-Man: THIS film should be the shining example of how to do realism in superhero films. I know I'm gushing here, but it's truly amazing how much I felt for these characters, even the villain. In fact, this is the only film where I wanted to walk up to the villain, put my arm around him and say "It'll be ok." He's not even really a villain. One of the things the film is best at is avoiding superhero film tropes, and as a result, it doesn't feel like a superhero film, but just a story and a dang good one at that. Not that it's perfect. Some things about the nature of the powers are left pretty vague. It's intentional and makes sense considering that they (and therefore we) SHOULDN'T understand everything, but you may be left wanting more answers. There are also some spots (first flight) where the effects get noticeably shoddier, and there are some places where it's obvious they just threw up a pretty background on the green screen, but it didn't bother me because I was so invested. As someone who's seen many, many superhero films, this is the best to me "and I think that says something." I'd recommend it not just to superhero fans, but fans of great films in general. Don't be intimidated by the format, it works really freaking well. Some advice? Buy the Director's Cut! We get even more time seeing the characters develop.

Bloody awesome

I do not use that word inflationary. I don't think I used it in months, but that movie was awesome. It was was the best I saw this year, and this includes Iron Sky. Still, I liked it more than the latter, even though I probably couldn't watch it as often as the Nazi parody.

It... touched me. There had been times I wanted to jump into the screen and punch the lights out of several characters, or comfort them. Regular movies don't do that for me, neither do emotional ones.

So, yeah. I really liked it, I recognized the allusions to Tetsuo and Anakin the moment they happened, hell I was about to scream "Kaneda" when Andrew addressed Matt during his rampage.

Chronicle did well. I will buy it.

Loved It!

When I saw the trailer, I thought it'd be a nice movie. When I actually went to see it (*coughsnuckincough*), I was just blown away. I've been spoiled to other movies. This was honestly the best movie I'd seen a while. As I am a fan of TV Tropes (and have been long enough that I should be majorly traumatized), I saw many of the situations in the movie coming, but still felt heartbroken when they happened.

To make it even better, it seems my friends all saw it too, and loved it just as much. One in particular wants to write fanfiction about it, and she's never actually /done/ that (to my knowledge).

This wanting to write fanfics of it was just boosted (for both of us) when we realized that there seemed to be /none/ up that we could find. I was glad to look a few days after noticing that and seeing that people had already started to add fics on.

I have to mention that I have yet to meet someone who didn't like the movie.