Chronicle – My Latest Rental

Me and the Missus watched a curious little rental that came from the Lovefilm list the other day; Chronicle.

The film tells the story of three teenagers; Andy, Matt and Steve, who discover a mysterious meteor in the woods while attending a rave, which bestows them with superhuman powers of telekinesis. The three teenagers bond as they experiment and come to terms with their new powers, until the dynamic of the group shifts as one of the boys begins to develop his talents faster and starts to see the world differently.

The entire movie is presented in the ‘Found Footage’ format and is largely made up of the character Andy’s video diary camcorder, occassionally supplemented with CCTV camera footage, news broadcasts, and another minor character’s video blog (Casey, Matt’s love interest.) Historically ‘Found Footage’ style movies have generally left me cold, but I liked the method in this film – rather than being a horror gimmick or a technique utilised to disguise a low budget I felt the approach legitimately added a layer to the storytelling. One of the key aspects to the story is the ‘what if?’ realism and the ‘Found Footage’ method mostly re-enforces and enhances the realism of the piece, except for a few minor moments when it was a little too cinematic and broke the style a bit. These occasions were rare though; by enlarge the Found Footage filming is done very well.

The cast do an outstanding job, especially considering all three of the main protagonists are reletively inexperienced. The only one I recognised was Michael B. Jordan, from his TV roles, which are mostly bit-parts in shows I watch. Each of these guys was entirely convincing in their roles and I fully accepted the emotional journey each character takes through their performances.

The plot was a tad too predictable – it was implicitly obvious where this movie was going to go early on. Even the most irregular film viewer could probably pin down the narrative on this one fairly sharpish. This is the film’s biggest downfall really; while I watched the film and enjoyed the performances and the cinematic style I knew exactly what was going to happen, immensely annoying my Wife as I outlined each coming scene like some creepy fortune teller. (She even asked me if I’d seen it before.)

I was reminded of an old favourite watching this flick; Akira, by Katsuhiro Otomo. There is much in the way of thematic similarities and some of the visual aesthetic too, so if you’re a fan of Akira I can definitely see this movie appealing to you as it did me despite the predictability – it was kind of cool to see some of the ideas in live action.

Speaking of visual aesthetic – there are a number of instances when I felt the FX were a little on the iffy side. These iffy FX moments made me feel like there was a break in the realism so well created through the ‘Found Footage’ style and the performances. I have chosen to largely forgive these moments; while a bit of a niggly annoyance it didn’t drastically effect my viewing experience and I would consider what was on the screen an achievement considering the budget of the film.

Would I recommend it? Yes I would. Although it’s not trailblazing new cinematic territory and could be perceived as a little gimmicky and predictable it’s a well constructed piece of work with good direction and performances that make it a worthwhile viewing experience. If I had to score the film it would be a rock solid 7.

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