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article imageOp-Ed: ‘Chronicle’ has superhero potential

By Sarah Gopaul     Feb 3, 2012 in Entertainment
‘Chronicle’ is a unique combination of two recently popular film categories: the superhero movie and found footage genre.
The superhero story has received its fair treatment over the last few years, mostly in the form of Marvel and DC adaptations. They arrive with a built-in fan base and understanding of the characters, and set out to impress with A-list celebrities and boundless CGI. Chronicle is a different sort of movie about having super powers.
Steve, Matt and Andrew (Michael B. Jordan, Alex Russell and Dane DeHaan, respectively) are typical high school kids with normal concerns about football games, girls and grades. But when the three explore a mysterious artifact in a cave, they emerge with a new ability; they gain the power to move things with their mind and they grow stronger every day. They flex their mental muscles by playing harmless pranks on people and gain popularity by showing off their "tricks" at school. But when Andrew begins to use his power to get back at his abusive father (Michael Kelly) and school tormentors, his friends are forced to make a decision. The line between hero and villain is drawn, and everyone has to pick a side.
The movie feels like an origin story à la Superman and Lex Luther. Once friends, a thirst for power tears them apart and will destroy one of them completely. The final battle of good versus evil is on a scale probably larger than what was required, but it gave the filmmakers a chance to flaunt their special effects prowess. A football field probably would have sufficed and made the same point. Instead, they crash through skyscrapers, float above the Seattle Space Needle and fling life-sized cars around as if they were toys. There are also a couple of scenes reminiscent of scenes from the X-Men films, specifically those in relation to Magneto.
One of the things that differentiate this picture from other superhero films is the camera is part of the narrative, providing a new twist to the found footage genre. Andrew's initial purpose for the camera is to create a sort of barrier between himself and other people, particularly his father. Then, like the cheerleader in Heroes, they use it to document their power. All the images in the film are supposedly recorded by one of its characters, if not with Andrew's camera then a friend who is also a video blogger or security cameras. At first this tired technique is somewhat annoying, but it eventually goes a long way in bringing the viewer into the story.
Told through the eyes of teen boys, the narrative is to some extent seen through testosterone-tinted glasses. They test their abilities as if they were auditioning for Jackass and to lift girls' skirts. But Andrew has also spent years being everyone's punching bag, and giving someone that angry super powers is akin to giving him a gun - only more dangerous. But before things go sour, there's some fun to be had, including a sing-along with "Price Tag" and a game of extreme football.
Ironically, the Super Bowl will likely keep many theatre goers at home this weekend, but Chronicle is a solid pick from the weekend’s new releases.
Director: Josh Trank
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly and Dane DeHaan
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This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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