In the past 13 years, the only types of “found footage” movies made were literally found in the horror genre. That kind of explains why nobody has even tried to make a shaky cam movie without something trying to kill humans in the supernatural aspect. Sure ‘Cloverfield’ was a monster film, but it still had a beast trying to kill idiotic New Yorkers. The only film to explore things other than horror and monster movies was the 2010 flop ‘The Virginity Hit.’ In the first three months of 2012, we have two new found footage movies. The first of those films is ‘Chronicle,’ a superhero film that is actually the origin story of a villain. ‘Chronicle’ is about three high schoolers, two of them fairly popular and the third an abused kid that’s filming everything going on, who discover an underground cave encasing a huge crystal barrier that’s making a creepy humming sound. Upon coming out of the cave, the three boys realize that they have telekinesis and can perform a lot of tricks using their minds.
Unlike other superhero films, this movie focuses on how these three guys are just playing around with their powers rather than doing anything for the greater good. That alone makes this movie more creative than more recent superhero and found footage movies. In 2011, we had a lot of huge surprises in movies, including but not limited to ‘X-Men: First Class’ and ‘Warrior. 2012 may possibly outshine 2011, because we’ve only just entered February and the superhero film nobody expected to be good is superb. Blending thriller, drama, and comedy in with the superhero/sci-fi genre, ‘Chronicle’ exceeded all of my expectations and has a solid chance of being remembered by the time we are all counting down to 2013.
For a bunch of unknown actors, all three of the main leads are fantastic. Michael B. Jordan, the smallest character of the three main leads plays the popular future school president/jock of the group, and of course he is the comedic relief of the movie. When he tries to be funny, he succeeds at being funny, which is needed because the movie gets very dark in its final half hour. He reminded me of a young, high school version of Anthony Mackie, who was very successful in many good movies last year. I still wish that we could’ve seen more of Jordan’s character before he left the movie. I guess the attractive jock of the group is Alex Russell, who plays Matt, the cousin of the main lead of the film, Andrew. The first scene with Matt shows him clearly trying to make his wimpy cousin cool and more relatable. As the movie progresses, you start seeing and feeling that Matt actually cares for his cousin, even though the cousin becomes a homicidal maniac. Matt also shares the love story with a girl who loves to film life as well as Andrew does. It does get a bit clichéd there, but you really don’t care about it and just go with the flow of the story. After talking about the bronze and the silver contestants of the film, let’s talk about the golden champion.
Dan DeHann plays Andrew, the antagonist of the film and the one shooting every single minute of his current high school life. While Andrew is the antagonist of the film, you actually feel for him because of what happens to him on a daily basis. He gets bullied at school, ignored by his cousin most of the time, and he is abused physically by his father while his mom slowly dies. If you think this is a spoiler, don’t worry. This all happens in the first 10 minutes of the movie. Never once have I actually wanted the villain to beat the heroes of the story and possibly take over the world. You actually feel the pain that Andrew has with every issue he has in his life, which I admire to a very high degree. DeHann himself is fantastic as Andrew. In some ways, the character himself reminded me of Harvey Dent/Two-Face in ‘The Dark Knight.’ While you want him to die in the final scene of the movie, you can clearly see why he wants to do what he wants to do. He was manipulated by a serial killer, and Andrew had the same thing happen to him in this movie, only The Joker was represented by his father and the school bullies. If these three guys don’t get any acting roles in the near future, then there won’t be any justice in the world. After all, we live in a society where Taylor Lautner and other teen actors are at the top of the movie scene, so why can’t these talented guys have a shot.
First time director Josh Tank, along with creative partner/screenwriter Max Landis have together created a masterful superhero movie that shows us exactly how the superheroes would first react to getting their superpowers. Using the found footage method not only engaged the audiences into the story but it also made you feel like you were in on all of the action. The final battle sequence has a very unique structure where it takes the audience into several different points of views as to what is going on at the moment, and I found that creative and awesome. Not to mention that the acting by the three main leads was fantastic for their first starring roles. Seriously, there will be no justice in this world if these three guys don’t get any good acting gigs in the future. The special effects, because this movie was on a ham sandwich budget, looked pretty fake, but that didn’t take away from the film at all. This is the first movie of 2012 that you really must go check out for yourselves. It will strike many chords inside you, plus make you laugh here and there. Superhero films always show the audience the heroic duties of a superhero. Why can’t they ever show the origin stories of how they first got their powers? That is exactly what ‘Chronicle’ is, and for that it is a superb movie, and already one of the best movies of 2012.