Teens corrupted by super powers in ‘Chronicle,’ plus Barrymore’s whale of a tale
After catching up with some Oscar contenders, it was back to new releases at the multi-plex.
Chronicle turned out to be a decent entry in the “found-footage” template created by The Blair Witch Project. That genre has been a rather popular device for low budget horror/sci-fi films of late (Paranormal Activity, Cloverfield).
This one features a no-name cast of teen protagonists playing out a trio of classic high school clichés — the smart geek outsider and the one with the camera, Andrew (Dean DeHaan); his popular, nice guy cousin, Matt (Alex Russell) and the ultra popular ladies man/school politician Steve (Michael B. Jordan). Andrew has plenty of reason to be surly and withdrawn with a mother dying of cancer and a father who beats him down physically and emotionally.
At a party where Andrew demonstrates his lack of social graces, his cousin and Steve ask him to bring his camera to a hole they have found in the woods. In a delightfully creepy bit of exposition, the trio come across a pulsating jumbo crystal-like structure (space debris that crashed to earth possibly?), and being stupid, drunk teens, touch it.
You can feel the Carrie vibe heating up when, in the next few days, the threesome discover they have telekinetic powers. The ability to move objects and mess with a lady by moving her car from a parking space at the supermarket escalates into nearly killing a motorist. Instead of being more cautious, the incident causes Andrew to really explore the range of his growing powers until he teaches the other two how to fly.
So now we have three teens feeling the power and the sense of superiority that brings with it. Andrew is the one who has the most anger built up inside and when he explodes, Chronicle becomes a Carrie-meets-Hancock mash-up of flying bodies, flying cop cars and a young man who can’t control his telekinetic rage.
Written by Max Landis (son of John Landis) and directed by first time helmer Josh Trank, Chronicle provides more emotional weight than the typical “found-footage” movie, and that makes it an enjoyable example of a film that is a cut above its genre roots.
Romantic comedies have been so awful lately (with the major exception of Crazy, Stupid, Love) it is no wonder that director McG and his trio of writers decided to try and spiff up the genre by mashing it together with an action comedy.
The success of the Bourne trilogy has changed the landscape of spy movies. While there are still James Bond movies, even those have more grit these days. Safe House, starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds, is an obvious example of this new direction.
While I was recovering from surgery last month, several Oscar contenders opened. Here are some quick opinions on those films and what chance they might have when the Oscars are handed out Feb. 26.
When one looks back over the year and designates a “best 10” list, it isn’t really a “best” ten. In all honesty it is my 10 favorite films of the year, since one’s personal tastes are such a big part of remembering which films gave you the most pleasure or had the biggest emotional impact, or just made you laugh your ass off.