Friday, 24 February 2012



And here we go again with the found footage technique that makes everything look like crappy handheld camcorder - because it IS crappy handheld camcorder. Granted, they've tried to do something a little bit different with it, like doing some editing with the raw video files (although not nearly enough) and at least it's not yet another FF horror movie. But they've still not solved the central problem of why all this stuff is being filmed and, even more crucially, who cut it all together afterwards. And this issue - which will not go away - isn't even the biggest problem with the film. No, far more serious is the fact that the three leads are useless giggling imbeciles and it's impossible to give one hoot, let alone two, when bad things happen to them.

Chronicle's unique spin on the superhero genre is simply: what if the recipients of unearthly superpowers weren't clean-cut heroic types but high school dumbasses? Andrew, Matt and Steve (Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell and Michael B Jordan, the last of these having something of Denzel Washington about him, if Denzel Washington was a 15-year-old douchebag) find a mysterious hole in a field one night; exploring, they come across some unknown and unexplained objects which grant them powers of telekinesis. At first they use their gifts for their own dimwit amusement - moving shopping trolleys and parked cars to their owners' bafflement - but Andrew's hideous home and school life is badly affecting his control over his abilities....

Some of this is actually fairly amusing and the effects work is generally pretty good, but it's hard to muster up much sympathy for the main characters. Carrie worked because you genuinely felt her pain, but Andrew's victimisation and bullying gives you nothing. And the found footage style again refuses to make any sense. There's no reason why Andrew is filming any of this beyond what appears to be a general American teen need to document everything they do and say, no matter how banal. More absurdly, it's spliced in with other people's camcorder footage, including one who has nothing to do with anyone else in the film; along with footage from police and CCTV security cameras. Who put all this material together? It's established that Andrew can move his camera telekinetically, but even when he's unconscious? Who set it up in his hospital room, tripod and all? Camera setups don't matter in most films, but if the filming is part of the narrative this has to be acknowledged within the narrative, and as with Apollo 18, they haven't.

It really would have been a better film if they'd actually made it as a proper film rather than as a "we found it, it's all real" exercise that doesn't add up, and if they'd had a trio of leads that weren't quite so charmless. There are nice moments - their first flying sequence, Andrew's sudden acceptance to the in-crowd after storming a talent show with his skills - but not enough of them, and ultimately it's an unsatisfying movie.


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