To date, "Chronicle" is the best superhero movie of 2012. Granted, it's the only superhero movie of 2012 — so far. Plenty of comic book competitors are coming down the pike (some sooner than later, with a vengeance at that), but the bar has been set: director Josh Trank's found-footage superhero flick is a terrific time at the movies, and more than deserving of your time if you have 80+ minutes to spare.
Here are five reasons you should see "Chronicle" this weekend.
We've seen fun superhero movies before, but I don't know that we've ever seen a movie that's had as much fun with superpowers as "Chronicle." Sure, Magneto slow-motioning a coin through his long lost foe's noggin was pretty sweet, but "Chronicle" might do an even better job of showing the sheer joy and pure rage that comes with having superhuman abilities. The scenes of playful discovery and wrathful destruction are totally awesome to behold.
The laughs and screams would be nothing without characters to care about. "Chronicle" has that covered. You fully believe troubled teen Andrew's Tetsuo-like descent into madness, thanks largely to actor Dane DeHaan's tortured performance. Alex Russell is the least exciting of the trio as Andrew's cousin Matt, but the charisma factor is more than made up for in Michael B. Jordan's turn as the impossibly popular Steve Montgomery. Jordan's been tearing it up on the small screen for years between "The Wire" and "Friday Night Lights," and his work here in "Chronicle" cements his status as a film star in the making.
"Chronicle" is a smart movie. It's a superhero origin story and follows the superhero origin story format, but it's more than that. It's not a simple battle of good versus evil. These are kids who find themselves with new powers they can't explain — and they are excited. And scared. The thoughts and feelings these teens go through as they achieve previously unthinkable heights are fully relatable to anyone who's gone through the awkward uncertainty of adolescence. Kudos to Josh Trank and Max Landis for cooking up a great take on the genre.
Of course, "Chronicle" is more than a superhero movie. It also carves out its own unique spot in the found-footage landscape. "Chronicle" takes great creative liberties with the use of perspective: for instance, the "cameraman character" is a much more involved, on-screen player than the role is usually allowed in these kinds of movies. That's thanks largely to the telekinetic force at the center of "Chronicle," removing the need for a man behind the lens. But that's not the only way Trank plays with perspective — to say any more would be saying too much.
"Chronicle" is self-contained. That doesn't mean there isn't room for more. The universe this movie establishes is compelling enough to warrant a return trip; I'm certainly hoping to come back, whether through film or comics or some other form. But more than the idea of direct continuations, "Chronicle" takes superheroes and found-footage, two genres regularly beaten to death in Hollywood, and manages to cough up something wholly original and great. It's unexpected and exciting, the kind of film that energizes you about the possibilities these types of movies have to offer.
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