Thursday, 20 December 2012

Movies That I Haven't Seen But Should Have - Part 7: Super Powers

There are a lot of movies I'm ashamed to admit I've never seen. But rather than pretend I've seen them or change the subject when they’re mentioned, I've decided to share them with you. These films that are cult classics or masterpieces that I have missed or avoided, I am sitting down to review. Today's film is the most recent in this series of unwatched must-sees. Released this very year, it takes a few different genre's and turns them on my head. High school flick, superheroes, teenage drama, psycho thriller, found footage, there's a whole range of film aspects that get played with. This is Chronicle.

The story of three teenagers, hopeful politician Steve (Michael B. Jordan), abused and unloved Andrew (Dane DeHaan), and Andrew's cousin, Matt (Alex Russell), who stumble across a hole in the ground which is home to, what seems to be, an alien relic. Andrew, fortunately for all, has recently decided to film everything - mostly due to his alcoholic father (Michael Kelly) and bullies at school. After documenting the finding of the relic, Andrew continues to film as the three boys discover they have powers that give them the ability to move things with their mind and even fly. But this is a realistic view on three rowdy kids developing power. They do not consider the concept of saving the world or doing good - who would? They do what any normal person would do: compete against each other to see who is the strongest and have some fun screwing with society. Like always, things get pushed, boundaries get overstepped, people change. How will they manage to stay strong as a trio before their powers overtake them?

Their powers allow them to build with Lego.
Let's see Superman do that.

Irritatingly, it is hard to describe the acting without getting into the realms of spoilers. However, as always, this blog promises to be as spoiler free as possible. Found footage films have a difficulty in terms of acting. the camera does not capture everyone and everything and so the actors have to perform a lot without being on screen, particularly Andrew. (The film does have interesting takes on this though. More on that later.) The three leading lads do exactly what's needed of them. DeHann deserves a special mention for being the abused outcast. He stays clear of the one dimensional loser that so many high school films offer these days and instead takes us on a journey. The highs of being accepted, the sadness behind suffering, and, most importantly, the corruption of power in the wrong hands. Jordan, as Steve, plays an interesting role. The most popular kid at school but, again, unlike conventional teen films, he has a genuine interest in helping Andrew. It is a fine line. Be cool but also be sensitive. Jordan manages it like few others do. Finally, Russell, playing Matt, becomes the hero of the story. There's a possibility that, as the movie progresses, you can see suffering within Russell's performance - not as much as is within Alex, but it is still there and evident. It is subtler. It shows Matt's hardened personality and his innate need to do the right thing. Good performances all around.

Quidditch without broomsticks is the next big thing.

Found footage films are nothing new. They are, admittedly, most related to horror films, and therefore have a negative name for themselves but this is different. First of all, due to Alex's power of telekinises, he has the ability to make the camera float nearby without paying it much attention. This allows a lot of scenes to take place as if there was another person filming. On top of this, it is not just one camera that does the filming, it is any. There's a scene in which Matt talks to a girl who is video blogging and the exchange is shown from both camera's perspectives. Also, as the film progresses, cell phone footage becomes crucial to showing all the different angles. Like any other good film, Chronicle has all the angles needed. Being filmed in this manner not only engages the audience like a good POV film, but balances the engaging perfectly with  distancing  in order to best tell the story. Despite some far too plastic looking CGI and other special effects, the visual nature of the film is superb.

A fresh, unique, and thoughtfully enjoyable take on superheroes. Gritty and realistic and has the rare 'watch over and over' feel towards it. It may not go down in history but it is likely to become plenty of people's new favourite film. A great watch.

Best Bit? SPOILER ALERT: Andrew's complete breakdown. It's really quite touching as well as being completely entertaining.

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