It’s time to review the shaky camera film that came out not too long ago. It feels a whole lot older than 2012 though since I could have sworn that it’s been more than 3 years since we rented it. Ah well, memory doesn’t always go in a linear fashion and mine in particular has never been great. I don’t care for the camera style and there has never been a good movie that has used it (Sorry Cloverfield!). Still, maybe this will be the exception right?…..
The plot involves Andrew Detmer as he decides to start recording his life on camera from now on. He gets bullied at school and he has no friends. At home, his Dad is always drunk so Andrew is really in a tough spot. It may not make for a good film to watch on tape when he grows up, but at least he’ll have proof for the cops. Did I mention that suspicious characters have practically formed a gang and taken over his neighborhood as well? One day, Andrew is called out by Steve to follow him and Matt into an underground tunnel. Andrew refuses every step of the way, but his body and his mind don’t seem to be on the same page as he dashes in. He reminds everyone that they shouldn’t be down there as they grab the crystal and are instantly defeated. When they wake up, the three heroes realize that they have advanced telekinesis. With this kind of power…they can do anything! Will they learn to use their powers for the good of humanity or will they decide to crush all of the obstacles that had been in their life?
Well, I can’t say that this film was a winner for me anymore than Cloverfield. The shaky camera certainly doesn’t help and I don’t think that I will be converting into a fan in the foreseeable future. It just takes away from all of the scenes since you’re wondering how long the film will be until the camera goes away. A person was mugged at a bar for using the Google Glass in real life so imagine how much worse it would be for a kid who is already bullied to start bringing a camera with him to school? Only the plot allowed his camera to survive and the bullying actually gets a little worse once he starts using it. It also helps Andrew to withdraw from humanity along with the viewers.
Andrew Detmer is the main character and he is part of the moral of the story. What’s the moral? It’s essentially that power corrupts and “what goes around comes around.” Andrew has been bullied by his family and schoolmates for a long time and once he obtains his powers, Andrew finally snaps. The thing is, Andrew had likely already snapped many times in the past, but he just couldn’t do anything about it without his powers. It’s one of the reasons why the gun control law debates are so fierce. There are many bar room brawls that escalate and if they had guns, I’m sure that we would get many reports of people being shot. Andrew wastes no time as he blows up a hole in a hospital and starts to rampage through the city. He goes from Hero to Zero (I love that Kingdom Hearts rhyme) or essentially from bullied kid to the deranged bully.
I didn’t like him from the start and he’s just not my kind of film lead. It’s really why I didn’t like Peter Parker in the first installment of the reboot series. There are plenty of anime leads who start out quiet and sad like Aichi and Haruyuki, but they learn how to be sociable as they make friends. Andrew made two friends, but the camera prevents him from truly bonding with them. He is actually doing pretty well until his big incident at the party where he tries to prove that he is a man through romance. If great power won’t corrupt a person, romance certainly will. Did he really think that it would be a wise move to get intimate with a girl that he just met for 2 minutes? Andrew didn’t think it through and everyone would have walked all over him as they absorbed the money that he would earn with his abilities. His whole situation is pretty messed up and it’s very tough to get out of something like that, but he definitely didn’t handle it well.
See, once you have great powers..then the situation should naturally get better. The main character can emit a barrier around himself with telekenesis so he doesn’t have to worry about his bullies or his Dad anymore. He doesn’t have to hurt them, he can just protect himself or freeze them in place for a minute or two so they understand their powerlessness. There are a lot of ways to improve the situation once you have such useful powers and Andrew made all of the wrong calls. It’s one of the reasons why he wasn’t really likable by the end.
Matt is the main character’s cousin and he means well. He seems to put more of an effort into helping Andrew than the others, but it’s not easy. He can’t always be there so he doesn’t truly understand Andrew’s plight and it’s tough to really talk to the main character. Matt is also dealing with relationship troubles of his own at this point and he wants one of the girls to understand why he is so much cooler than everyone else. He doesn’t participate in the High School popularity stunts and he can be pretty arrogant. At the end of the film, it’s up to him to make the tough calls. He was possibly the nicest guy from the main three, but it’s still hard to find him likable. He has some good moments and then he also has some bad moments. He’s really just interested in romance when he talks to the main girl and that’s not cool. I never cared for the romance stereotype, but it’ll likely stay around for a while.
Steve is the third member of the group and he’s the one who really links the three main characters. He involves both of them when they find the chunk of rock that gives them powers and he is pretty popular at school. His life is pretty perfect compared to the other two and he takes everything in stride. Of course, he does help the other two pull off some pretty mean spirited pranks and he’s also way too interested in romance and using his powers for pretty bad means. Yeah, Steve does beat Andrew, but he could still be a lot better. He looks pretty awful in his final moments though since he is basically sucker zapped.
Richard is Andrew’s father and he’s really here as an obstacle to be overcome. His personality is just that he likes to get drunk and make Andrew’s life as miserable as he can. An accident made him quit his job and even though he has healed..he doesn’t bother to do anything with his life. He has no point in the story except to push Andrew over the edge. He says that Andrew is responsible for his mother’s final end because he was looking for Andrew to mess with him when the wife was dying. It’s the whole blame game and it doesn’t end. Richard really has nobody but himself to blame for everything that’s happened to him in the last few years.
There is no real soundtrack so I’ll skip the audio section. (0/5 for the soundtrack by default…) The fight scenes are surprisingly good, which is probably the biggest plus of the film. Maybe it’s actually not too hard to do them and films typically just avoid these type of fight scenes for fear of reviews like in Man of Steel, but they’re very well done. We see the craters from the big clash and the telekinesis abilities are a little more refined than when Jean Grey used to fight in the X Men movies. (Granted..this is a 2012 film) The fight scene wasn’t totally satisfying since one of the fighters was trying not to fight while the other one was already pretty crazy, but I’ll take what I can get. You can definitely draw a lot of parallels to Superman in the way that they fought. Not a whole lot of punches are thrown, but they fly in Superman stances and the craters may remind you of the fight between Superman and Zod. It’s just a lot better than I would have expected for this film and it would have been even better with a different camera style.
This is not a film where you should expect a happy ending. One of the reasons why this film isn’t that good is that it’s not very enjoyable. This is the kind of film that you can call a downer. Everything goes wrong for the main character from start to finish. He made the wrong choices at the end, which result in his end, but there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. It’s very gloomy and we just watch everyone bite the big one in the end. The cops naturally decide to shoot at the good guy who’s defending the city instead of the villain. There is also a really unnecessary scene where Andrew literally rips a spider apart. That’s when we realized that Andrew had completely gone off the deep end along with his speeches on natural selection. (Remember that he is talking to himself on camera…just saying..)
The only time where things are actually going pretty well for the heroes is when they’re pulling pranks at other people’s expense or when they’re at the talent show and Andrew realizes that showing off his powers for romance and money is all that he really wants anymore. It’s just a very somber film that won’t leave you singing “Everything is Awesome” the way that something like the Avengers would. The film will leave you worn out even though it isn’t very long since the ending will leave part of the city in shambles and more than a few people are either down for the count or in the hospital. At least, the one person with powers left should be able to get by just fine. (Overpowered powers are overpowered after all)
Overall, Chronicle makes most of the classic film mistakes. It has animal violence and no real themes. The main characters are not likable since they have many of the flaws that you see in everyday life. They just spam swear words through their daily life and just care about romance and being “cool.” It’s safe to say that the camera didn’t help either. Chronicle did have some great action scenes though and a sequel could work out a lot better than this one if it follows Matt’s story and goes with a traditional camera view. That would give it a pretty good chance of not only beating this film, but perhaps doubling its score. That would be pretty impressive for a sequel! If you want to watch a shaky cam film then you’re out of luck as far as recommendations go since I wouldn’t recommend this one. However, if you want a film about people with super powers that isn’t Sky High, I would recommend checking out Naruto Shippuden Film 3!