It would be a sweeping statement to suggest that at the heart of every troubled soul is a dodgy upbringing, I know that.
But there is obviously a link a lot of the time.
I’m sure you knew someone when you were at school who acted out in rebellion against – or to attract the attention of – their parents. Or you might know a girl who can’t be single because she is has daddy issues and is desperate for the love and attention of a man. Or even the quiet loner guy who probably got a regular beating from his father and has become a rather nasty and introverted bully himself.
Well Chronicle deals with the latter.
What’s It About?
Filmed in the style of the wonderful and yet under-appreciated 2008 film Cloverfield – i.e. everything being represented as being filmed in the first person on video cameras – (hence the name Chronicle), this is a film about three school seniors who stumble upon what can only be assumed to be an alien crash site in the woods near a party they are at. And it gives them superpowers.
And yes, I know that you know that I love ‘Superhero’ films, but this isn’t really one of them. Rather than the focus being on the fact that they have these superpowers, it is about how the three different guys deal them emotionally.
Two of them manage fine and are just happy to have them, but one of them – the main character – struggles. The reason for that is because of his station in life. He’s a shy and quiet guy with an abusive alcoholic father, a terminally ill mother and plenty of people who get their kicks by making fun of him. Give someone like that a superpower and it’s only inevitable that they will snap, and so it comes to pass.
I came into this film having mainly read negative reviews – not from people who had seen it themselves, but rather second hand suggestions that it wasn’t up to much.
No, it wasn’t a particularly gripping plot, but I don’t think films filmed in the first-person style are really capable of that anyway. Cloverfield wasn’t about the plot, but rather the moment and the experience of being part of what was happening. This is more like a diary. But it works.
And the good thing about it is the twist on the usual Superpower tale, where instead of an individual needing to put his or her new found abilities to use against some evil, this is about the personal struggles of the kids. As I say, it’s not about them having them, but rather how they react.
With stuff filmed like this, it would be easy to say that it’s not so much about the acting either, but the key is that the characters have to be seen to be acting ‘normally’, which is a difficult skill to pull off, not only in performance but in scripting. In real life, people don’t talk in the flowery English, info dumping sentences or poetic soliloquies that we often see in drama, and if that were the case here it would be all the worse for it. To an extent, the main character suffers a bit from being far too ‘typical’ of the loner school-kid, but it can be forgiven.
So it flows well and seems authentic.
And it looks quite good as well as far as the special effects go. Without ruining it for you, the effects get more ‘explosive’ as the film develops and the way the action manages to switch from one camera to another while still being filmed at the end is good.
It could be argued that it’s a little bit convenient that the main character – Andrew – has decided to film everything he does in life on the same day that this amazing life changing scenario happens, and it’s equally convenient that they also know someone else who films everything she does and just so happens to be in the same room as the three main characters whenever the plot decides that they must all appear in the same shot, but I suppose we can forgive the director that niggle. He has to be allowed a certain amount of dramatic license for the plot to work.
On the whole though, it was perfectly enjoyable, and at 87 minutes long did not overstay its welcome.
Anyone who enjoyed Cloverfield would enjoy this. If you haven’t seen that film then you should, because it’s brilliant.
But this review is about Chronicle, and on its own merits it’s a decent-to-good film. Certainly it’s a film that you could probably wait to see at home rather than rush out to see at the cinema, but it is worth your time.
As a final thought, it struck me that parents of the two boys sitting along from me who were probably under the age of 10, watching this film unaccompanied and talking all the way through, might learn from watching this film what might happen to their permissively brought up kids if they end up getting super-powers, as unlikely as that may be.
But people like that never learn.