In the middle of Oscar Season, we find ourselves with a Science Fiction coming-of-age film that decides to give the world the middle finger… telekinetically. Three teens with suddenly developing superpowers find themselves learning more about themselves and each other in one of the most hyped up films of the past few months. I’d been waiting a long time for this one to come out, with small clips appearing online and in cinemas every now and then to feed the excitement.
The problem with Chronicle, however, is the way in which it’s shot: hand-held cameras. Thanks to Cloverfield and the Paranormal Activity films, anything shot with a camera set up by a character becomes something of a cliché. While the film doesn’t rely solely on specific cameras – the footage doesn’t seem to be of importance at all – the use of multiple cameras covers all angles. Until the first camera change, it seems as if it’s just a repeat of the above-mentioned films. Then it becomes more annoying, with camera changes happening frequently throughout the film.
That’s my biggest criticism of what is otherwise a very enjoyable film. The story is simple and straightforward, with a number of obviousness to the plot. But while it doesn’t contain many twists and turns to keep audience interest, gimmicks and games played by the teenagers ensure it doesn’t need to rely on them. It’s more to do with fun and excitement than telling a fantastic story, making this the antithesis of an Oscar film right when everyone else in Hollywood wants the same thing: the award.
I can’t criticise the acting or the characters. The three teenage boys fulfil some of the basic stereotypes of high school – the jock, the popular guy, the guy obsessed with how he looks to other people, the loner – but with the added bonus of superpowers to shake things up a bit. There’s real chemistry between the actors, which can be hard to pull off with all male leads, and it becomes entirely believable that they could be friends.
My advice: if you’re looking for something fun, a film that’s not glaringly made-for-the-Oscars, check out Chronicle. It’s a short film (at 83 minutes) that packs a punch and makes for an eventful experience with laughs, expectation and excitement along the way. The alternative is to wait for it to arrive on DVD and Blu Ray and watch it as a summer film – it seems a few months premature in that sense. Either way, it’s fun and worth the watch.
Director: Josh Trank
Age Certificate: UK and Ireland: 12a
Release Date: February 1st 2012