Rental Pick: CHRONICLE (2012)

To be perfectly honest, I’m not a big fan of the found-footage genre, which is often used in horror or sci-fi movies. So when this one comes around, I was only mildly interested in seeing it. But the good reviews piqued my interest and y’know what, going out of one’s comfort zone can be quite rewarding :)

The story is pretty straightforward, three Seattleites high school friends somehow gain superpowers after making an incredible discovery one night. It’s not fully explained how they gain these powers, but that’s beside the point. Soon, the three boys bonded over their newly-found powers, and the scenes of them discovering the powers are quite fun to watch. You sort of live vicariously through these characters, especially in the exhilarating flying sequences. Now who hasn’t wished they could fly at some point of their lives? What started out as whimsical and fun soon takes a sinister turn, however. Never has the saying ‘it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye’ been more aptly applied here.

The found-footage film-making style lends itself well to the story, as one of the main characters, Andrew, is a loner kid who seems to only communicate using his handy-cam. He’s the quintessential troubled boy who lives with his cancer-stricken mother and a disillusioned, abusive former-firefighter father. As if life at home isn’t hard enough, he’s also bullied at school. After seeing the documentary Bully, these bullying scenes are even more heartbreaking and you truly feel for this kid. His two friends however, Matt (who’s actually Andrew’s cousin) and Steve, the popular guy who’s running for school president, live seemingly problem-free lives.

So it’s no surprise that this incredible discovery affects Andrew the most. On the way home from school one day, Andrew uses his power that sends someone in the hospital. Surely anyone who’s been tailgated or harassed by a careless driver can relate to that scene, but the incident prompts Matt and Steve to enforce a ‘rule’ that they should not to use the powers whilst they’re angry or for evil purposes. For Steve and Matt, the powers are just something cool to have, a new talent they can use for fun, such as freaking people out at a toy store using their telekinetic powers.

But for Andrew, the power feeds his growing anger and resentment, and it quickly overtakes him. It doesn’t help matters that Andrew’s telekinetic abilities seems to be the strongest of the three, perhaps because he’s just naturally the most gifted out of them all, and it could be because he spends more time perfecting it. My husband likens his ability to X-Men‘s Jean Grey, who could be incredibly powerful when she puts her mind to it. Andrew also shares some similarities with another mutant with a dark past, Magneto, whose life is in turmoil following the death of his mother.

What I like about Chronicle is that the superhero theme ultimately speaks more about our humanity and moral conscience at the core. When something out of the ordinary happens to us, whether good or bad, we all have a choice in how we deal with them and those choices are what affects us and those around us, more so than the circumstance itself. The film’s sense of realism also makes the story and characters very relatable, after all these three boys are as ordinary as they come.

The script did a good job in getting us care about the characters and provides some depth that transcends beyond the gimmicks of its precarious concept. The special effects is pretty good considering its paltry $12 mil-budget, it’s nothing spectacular but does its job and serves the story well.

I’m also impressed with the performances of the relatively unknown young actors. Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell and Michael B. Jordan have good chemistry together, and all of them have only done mostly TV projects and various small projects. DeHaan, who looks so much like a young Leonardo DiCaprio (circa This Boys Life), has the most challenging role out of the three and he’s more than up for the task.

Now, I’m not saying this is a perfect movie of course, there are quite a few plot holes about the extend of their powers and all that, not to mention the clichéd stereotypes on some of the characters. There are also some of the absurd choices some of the characters did that aggravate me, but not to the point that derail the whole movie.

The quibbles I did hear from some reviewers are that the ending seems extreme and overblown. It’s a warranted sentiment though I actually don’t mind them as the conflict has been hinted more than once. Plus, Andrew’s musings about being an ‘apex predator’ that shouldn’t feel sorry for crushing its inferior prey would inevitably lead to him doing some horrible things. I do feel that the finale is quite violent for being PG-13, that battle scenes both on the air and on the ground around the Space Needle are fierce and brutal. It’s heartbreaking to see what the powers cost each of these kids and what happens when certain powers falls into the wrong hands.

Final Thoughts: Chronicle is a pleasant surprise for me. It’s a worthy sci-fi fantasy that’s grounded in realism and has more emotional weight than meets the eye. It’s a pretty impressive achievement from director Josh Trank and screenwriter Max Landis in their feature film debut.

4 out of 5 reels


Somehow I get a feeling this will be another polarizing movie, so if you’ve seen this, I’d love to hear what you think. If you haven’t, are you willing to give this a go?

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Five For The Fifth – February 2012 Edition

Hello folks, welcome to the February 2012 edition of Five of the Fifth!

As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here. So let’s get started, shall we?

1. Well today’s the biggest night of football, I know my hubby will park himself on the sofa and watch Giants and Patriots battle it out at the Superbowl XLVI. You can’t say that I’m a fan of team sporting events nor sport movies for that matter, I can count with my hands how many sports-related or specifically American football movies that I enjoyed. I did like Rudy when I saw it in high school with my brother, but not so much because of the football part, but I just love the underdog story. I also like Jerry Maguire more for the relationship of Tom Cruise’s title role with his client and his loyal assistant-turned-girlfriend.

Another fun one I remember is The Replacements... no I’m not saying it’s the greatest football movies ever, in fact it’s kind of a screwball but pretty enjoyable. Keanu Reeves plays a washed-up quarterback who’s recruited as part of the replacement team during a pro football strike. It even got Gene Hackman as the coach who believe in the unlikely if not preposterous players that include a Welsh former soccer player called ‘The Leg’ (Rhys Ifans) and a crazy defense lineman played by Jon Favreau. This dance scene done to the Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive is a hoot, always puts a smile on my face every time I watched it.


So what’s your favorite football movie(s)? 


2. The box office results hasn’t been posted yet but as of last Friday, Daniel Radcliffe’s horror flick The Woman in Black and the superhero-themed sci-fi Chronicle are on a tight race. Chronicle tells the story of three high school friends gain superpowers after making an incredible discovery. It’s done in a low budget, shaky cam movie ala Paranormal Activity, which also has mostly unknown cast. From what I’ve been reading lately, it sounds like an interesting entry into the whole superhero genre, some even call it a deconstruction of the conventional superhero mythology.

My matey Scott @ Front Room Cinema made up a top 10 list of alternative superhero movies last Thursday, and my favorite of all of them remains to be Unbreakable, which is also my favorite M. Night Shyamalan’s work. It’s one of those rare films that despite the ‘whoa’ ending, it’s still rewarding to watch it several times over as there’s always something new you discover and appreciate. I might give Chronicle a rent, I always like a fresh new take of the oft-told plot of ordinary folks acquiring extraordinary superpowers.

So what’s your favorite alternative superhero movie? Or if you happen to see Chronicle already, what did you think? 


3.  Ok time for some casting news. Last week, they announced a couple of duo casting I like. One of them is Rebecca Hall and Eric Bana in an untitled thriller by John Crowley (Boy A, Is Anybody There). I quite like Boy A, it’s an understated indie drama that shows the would-be Spider-man Andrew Garfield that he’s got some serious acting chops.

The plot for this upcoming project is quite intriguing… Hall and Bana will play former lovers who must work together on the defense team during a terrorist trial (per THR). I certainly like the cast, both aren’t A-listers yet, not sure why as they’re both not only gorgeous but massively talented.

So which casting news that you’re thrilled about from the past week?


4. Now, another two duo casting I like feature two actors whose stars are quickly rising: Jessica Chastain and Joel Edgerton. Edgerton is another Aussie on my watch-list after his terrific performance in Warrior, and you already know from this post that I adore Chastain.

Now the projects are quite peculiar, they’re signing on to a double feature films called The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: His and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Hersa New York-based couple going through a rough patch in their marriage. His will follow the events from the perspective of the husband, a restaurant owner; Hers will tell the tale from the wife’s point of view as she heads back to college. According to SlashFilm, these two films are intended as standalone features based on a script by Ned Benson (In Defiance of Gravity).

So what do you think about this project? Would you watch a double feature like this one?


5.The Oscars is taking place in a couple of weeks, and since 1991, the Academy Awards ceremonies has made the Kodak Theater its permanent home. But soon that won’t be the case as the company has since filed bankruptcy and won’t be able to make the $4 million annual payment to retain that name on the building.

Per Reuters, last Wednesday the 131-year company asked a U.S. bankruptcy court judge to allow it to get out of its $75 million naming rights deal with the real estate company behind the complex. THR also reported last December that the Oscar ceremonies might actually move to another spot entirely after 2013. It’s kind of sad what’s happening to Kodak, given their crucial role in the entertainment industry and long-standing relationship with film makers for decades.

So what do you think about the Kodak predicament… and what sponsor do you think would replace the theater name? 


Well, that’s it for the February edition of Five for the Fifth. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all!