Like drama, indie and action, superhero movies are now becoming their own genre in the film world. Origin films, however, are like the pit stain of the genre – it’s hard to set the right tone of how someone becomes a superhero without it becoming too…schmaltzy. There are loads of films that focus too much on the ‘nobility’ of the “good they can do in the world with their powers” and all jazz, and this excessiveness is not needed.
Chronicle is like a geeky kid’s wet dream. Three high-schoolers who find a meteorite and find themselves with kick-ass superpowers, including telekinesis and flight, while discovering the extent of their abilities.
The three male leads; popular Steve, outcast Andrew and middleman Matt, are very normal characters – the kind of guys you would expect in school – and as a result, they are engaging in their believability. Dane DeHaan’s emotionally damaged Andrew stands out in his Akira-inspired performance whose only solace comes through the lens on his video camera.
Newcomer Josh Trank comes up with cool ways to show off the superhero powers, using Lego and cars to compliment Max Landis’ witty script. They have been pretty smart in limiting the scope of abilities to only a couple of powers, rather than making it a rainbow of superpowers that is ultimately confusing and boring. The whole idea of documenting and found footage may have been copied incessantly but most of the films don’t feature superheroes, which is why it works really well here. On a miniscule budget of $15 million compared to standard superhero films, the visual effects provide quality eye candy in the action sequences, from the first power test to a near-death encounter involving a Boeing 747.
For a film like this to come out of nowhere (especially in our society where geekism is embraced like a cult) and to be really successful is quite an achievement. Watch Chronicle and revel with enjoyment – easily one of the best films of 2012 so far.