You have heard me complain about origin stories before, on multiple occasions. Well, it turns out that I am just a sadistic son of a bitch. Because while I hate the standard hero origin story, I apparently love the villain origin story. And if the packed theater I was in last night watching Chronicle is any indication, so do a lot of other people.
Quick overview for those who don’t know: Chronicle is the story of three high school kids who find this thing that gives them the power of telekinesis. They can only move small objects at first, but much like a muscle, the harder they work at it the more they can do. The big problem with this is that the main character, Andrew, lives a very shitty life. His mother is dying painfully of cancer. His father is an alcoholic who blames everything on him. He gets beat up and picked on by just about everyone around him. Give a kid with no power and no way to fight back incredible power, and pretty much everything he does is completely understandable. Not good, but understandable.
Director Josh Trank does a lot of things right with this film. The first (and most surprising) is using found footage as the film structure. The reason that this is so interesting is because we get to see every moment of Andrew’s life. We get to see how he has become the scared child who becomes the monster. But what is even better, and truly ingenious, is that Andrew is one of the ones who gets telekinesis. (Telekinesis is the ability to move objects with your mind.) This means that he can hold the camera without ever holding it. The camera can be at angles that no one could do in normal life. This also means that we get very little of the dreaded shaky cam.
The second thing Chronicle does correctly is show how teenagers would react to this power. They go out and commit pranks. There are no “I need to save the world” moments. There is no with great power comes great responsibility. They blow girls skirts up and freak out little kids in the toy store. They move a woman’s car into a different spot and then laugh their asses off when she gets confused. That makes perfect sense for a teenage male.
Next is flight. These guys can move objects with their minds. They are objects. The scenes of them learning how to fly and mastering it are simply amazing. You feel the joy of them flying in and out of clouds. You get excited with them as they plan to fly to Maui and Tibet. It is all just perfect.
But my favorite part of this movie is the last 20 minutes. The destruction and fights that happen are amazing for a movie that I know was done on a shoestring budget (by Hollywood standards: $15 million). You get the action, destruction and power that you long to see. If they ever do end up making an Akira movie, whoever directs it could learn a lot from Chronicle.
Chronicle is an excellent morality story, an amazing superhero/villain story, and one hell of a buddy movie. I liked pretty much every single part of it, and I recommend it to everyone. I was there with a friend and both of our wives and all four of us liked it. If you are looking to see a movie this weekend, Chronicle should be your top choice.
Have you seen Chronicle? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below.