Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Episode 3 - Chronicle - 6/10

A short time ago in a galaxy far-ish, far-ish away, a group of filmmakers sat in a conference room discussing how, given advances in technology, they could make a kick-ass movie about the kick-ass things you can do with kick-ass telekinetic powers. What they didn’t realize was that they accidentally left the two-way intercom on in the room, which caused Secretary Betty to remark “Sounds great, but what would the plot of such a movie be?” The filmmakers responded “we’ll put in some angsty teen in it or something, now get back to work!” *click* And so ended the plot conversation. Betty would go home to complain to her husband about how she feels unappreciated. The filmmakers would go on to make Chronicle, an 80-minute technical ego-stroke of filler footage with a plot thrown in there because “Movies for Dummies” says you need one.

Chronicle focuses around three common high school clich├ęs: the white, overly-popular student body president, do-the-right-thing fuckwad, Matt, the black, guarterback of the football team, all about girls and parties but deep down has a heart of gold, Steve, and the angsty “my life sucks, you suck, everything sucks,” soon to become a social experiment and will likely be the cause of everyone’s problems emo-whackjob, Andrew.

One night, these three students find a conveniently placed hole in the middle of the forest, travel into it and get telekinetic powers and if you were hoping for more substance and/or backstory there, too fucking bad. That takes thought and…work…and more brainpower than this movie is capable of comprehending.

From then on, Chronicle is basically a talent show of fun things that punk-ass kids would do with telekinetic powers like flying or throwing a football while flying or pretending to walk a tightrope while flying, or playing pranks on the local population…while flying. Though these were a lot of fun to watch, and I give credit to this movie for its creativity with SOME of it, Chronicle had a lot of moments where it dragged on and I just wanted SOMETHING, ANYTHING to happen.

Now, as the film progressed, this movie did attempt a plot. Andrew’s powers got to his head and the angsty-teen started a descent-into-madness and finished off with a temper-tantrum, but much like this paragraph was thrown in here because “Reviews for Dummies” says I need one, this story/character study never felt truly integrated into the production. Andrew’s drama with his deadbeat father and deadbeat classmates felt unenthused and seemed to simply be a break from the redneck-inspired “hey guys, watch this” moments this film took way too much pride in. The story that Chronicle guided you through just seemed too much like an after-thought and for that, I struggled greatly with it.

Told mostly through angsty-teen Andrew’s perspective, Chronicle utilizes the home-movie style of storytelling, as everything is told through video cameras that are being held or telekinetically controlled by one of the characters, usually Andrew. Its motive for this is that it’s Andrew wanting to put a barrier between himself and the world that has mistreated him so, which I never felt was a good enough answer here. American Beauty did this with Wes Bentley’s character, but Wes did it because he appreciated finding the beauty in the various threads that created the grand tapestry of life. Andrew just does it because…he’s angsty or someone stole the director’s tripods. There’s a point where it stops seeming like therapy and more like the creepy kid wants to film, and later, masturbate to you on his Mac.
Whatever, maybe I just missed the point and this was supposed to be taken as an art piece; perhaps I just dozed off during the scenes where each character did a narrative of how “we are all like an emo-kid with a superpower.”

When you think “chronicle” you think a story of legend like The Chronicles of Narnia or The Chronicles of Riddick or hell, even Lego’s “Bionicle” fits the bill. I came in expecting something along those lines, but instead I got a series of YouTube videos about a special kid who has a nervous breakdown. I should not have been as bored as I was and I should have walked away feeling something for any of the characters (remember Matt and Steve? Yeah, neither do I) but I just didn’t. Chronicle got too lost in its own cool atmosphere to actually give that atmosphere any meaning and when it tried, it just looked manufactured and unplanned.

I toggled between a 6 and a 7 here, but yeah, I have to go with my guy and give this a 6/10. Props to the director for bringing this idea a bit more down to earth, but you get no bonus points for mediocre after-school special quality sympathy.

1 comment:

  1. I caught this one when it first came out...went on a whim, nothing else to do that night, and perhaps there was a little alcohol involved beforehand, so from what I (kinda) remember, I had a good time with it for 3 reasons...

    First, I have to give them props for fitting a LOT of fx into a movie that cost a little over $12M to make. It probably cost more than that to re-dub Darth Vader (unnecessarily) wailing "NOOOOOOO!"

    Second, I like that it told the story from the point of view of psycho freak Andrew. We usually get the POV of the "good guys" as we watch the anti-hero disintegrate. Kinda liked that they did it the other way around.

    And third, I (kinda) remember thinking that they actually did a pretty good job with continuity where the "found footage" was concerned; very consistent and sometimes even a little surprising.

    Totally gotta agree on any criticism regarding plot. Or lack thereof. With an interesting story I would have given this one an 8/10. Completely sober, a 6/10 sounds fair. Next time, try it with a Long Island Ice Tea (or 4) as I did...easily a 7/10. :)