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Tuesday, February 14, 2012  

M. Ovie Reviews: Chronicle

Once in a while, I love going into movies knowing as little as possible, and I knew nothing about Chronicle other than that people whose opinion I respect loved it. I wanted to rush out and see it right away before I learned anything about it, but by the time I was able to make it out on Thursday, I already knew involuntarily knew that it was a found-footage story about young people who get superpowers. Which was more than I wanted to know, but I wasn't going to know any less later on, so I figured, screw it. You may or may not feel the same way I do, but if you didn't want to know anything about it before you saw it, you wouldn't be reading this right now. Thus, onward.

So anyway, there's this skinny high school kid named Andrew with a terminally ill mother and a father who's a drunken, abusive layabout. He's also a social outcast, despite looking like Leonardo DiCaprio circa This Boy's Life (which may be because he also speaks in the voice of Leonardo DiCaprio circa What's Eating Gilbert Grape). The movie ostensibly exists because Andrew has decided to buy a video camera and document everything, which, amazingly, does not seem to improve his life much.

At least not directly, that is, because his camera means he gets to join his handsome, popular cousin Matt and Matt's even more handsome, more popular friend Steve on a little expedition into the woods that results in, well, see paragraph one.

The whole found-footage conceit is, obviously, getting a little bit tired. I'm glad to see that at least this one dispenses with the framing device of explaining how it was shot and where it's from blah blah Blair Witch-Cloverfield-Paranormal Activity-Trollhunter-Apollo 18-cakes. There are also a couple of tricks this movie uses to wring a little bit more life out of the subgenre. One is the fact that Andrew's camera isn't the only one providing footage. There's also an annoying vlogger character who's just as pathological about it as Andrew (although she's a hot blonde and thus able to get away with it) who provides a much-needed outside perspective. And of course, when shit starts getting real, public and security cameras are handy for additional angles. A lot of them, when shit gets really real.

Also, this kind of movie is always supposedly shot by cameras that are either fixed in place or held by a character. But Andrew soon learns how to manipulate his camera telekinetically, allowing him to be in group shots with everyone else. But best of all is the moment when we get a shot of an amazing location, and there's a moment when you think you're looking at some establishing or transition shot before you remember that the characters must be there if we're seeing it. That alone is worth using the device in one more movie.

Oh, and the story succeeds on its own merits, of course. Things eventually get ugly and dark, as some of Andrew's actions make clear early on that they will be, but as outlandish as events get, it's all fresh enough that you never don't buy the premise. In fact, at one moment, watching downtown Seattle getting hammered, I actually caught myself briefly worrying about people I know there (although Sundry will be glad to know there's one less giant Washington state spider to terrorize her).

But that's all I'm going to say. It's good. You should see it. Whether you respect my opinion or not.

posted by M. Giant 6:11 PM 0 comments


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