Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Friday, February 3, 2012


True Origins

Rated: PG-13  Some Language, Sexual Content, Intense Action and Thematic Materials.
Release Date: February 3, 2012
Runtime: 1 hr 24 min

Director: Josh Trank
Writers: Max Landis, Josh Trank
Cast: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly, Ashley Hinshaw, Bo Petersen

SYNOPSIS: During a rave party at an abandoned property, Andrew, his cousin Matt and schoolmate Steve stumble upon a strange source of power that gives them all telekinesis. As their powers grow and expand, they each have to make decisions as to how they should use their new found gifts.

REVIEW: John Trank, writer and director of several episodes of the 2007 series The Kill Point, moves to the big screen with a script written by him and Master of Horror segment: Deer Woman writer Max Landis (son of John Landis). Trank directs a story about teenagers gaining superpowers, but this time neither Marvel nor DC comics provide any source material or characters to the film. 
Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan, In Treatment) starts documenting his life on camcorder film once he can no longer take the abuse from his drunken, disability-check cashing father Richard (Michael Kelly, The Adjustment Bureau). As his mother Karen (Bo Petersen, Endgame) lies sick in bed with expensive medical needs and failing health, Andrew hides behind the camera viewfinder as an escape from his life. Andrew is joined by his cousin Matt (Alex Russell, Almost King) as a ride to school and someone to pal around with. After an evening of abuse from his father, Andrew sneaks out of the house and goes with Matt and his camera to a party. While there, he, Matt and super popular Steve Montgomery (Michael B. Jordon, Red Tails) find a tunnel in the field with strange noises and stranger humming crystalline outcroppings. When Steve blacks out after touching the crystals, the three of them retreat from the tunnel and the party to recover. Quickly, they discover that they can attract, repel and move objects with the power of their will, and whatever power that they acquired from the tunnels. With practice their powers and control grow, and their bond of friendship strengthens. But with great power comes great responsibility (thanks, Stan Lee!) Decisions have to be made as to what they can do with their new found powers, and what they should do with their powers.

In a climate where the premier genres are the superheroes and the superhuman, Landis and Trank bring to the screen something fresh and original. In the last few years, genre films have tried to humanize the superhuman. Christopher Nolan decamped and de-gothed The Dark Knight, Peter Berg brought to the screen an original concept in Will Smith as the down-and-out superman Hancock, Matthew Vaughn brought a de-powered and well-meaning kids to the tights with Kick-Ass. Marvel and DC Comics have hit the apex of their popularity and exposure with multiple franchises hitting the screens full-tilt for big box office success. Landis and Trank take a comic book cliche for endowing powers and makes the results a true new story perfect for the social media, slacker mentality, YouTuber, post-Columbine age.

Although intolerance and teenage cruelty is not at all new, Chronicle takes a step closer to the real world than any of mutant hatred in X-Men: First Class. Depressed, anti-social slacker Andrew faces a sick mother and an absentee father. Dressed in gray hooded sweat jackets and a long coat, and sporting a sunless pale skin tone, you expect Andrew to start abusing of his powers. All in all, Andrew's descent to 'the dark side' is only a question of when. Chronicle is an origin of both the birth of good and evil, taking into account nature, nurture, and core dispositions at play. And with every great origin tale, the best villains do not consider themselves evil at all.

The story slowly builds, ratcheting up a bit at a time as Andrew, Matt and Steve explore and expand their powers. When the final face-off commences in downtown Seattle, the action is both realistic and over the top. The combatants crash through buildings, pummel through the floors and ceilings of condo apartments and dodge hurled through air city buses. With equal and opposite power, can one overcome the other?

Taking advantage of the popular mock documentary style, Chronicle does something that films like Paranormal Activity, The Devil Inside, and The Last Exorcism struggled with. With the first person camera presentation, those stories are over with the demise of the last character. Trank uses Andrew's telekinetic ability to float the camera or smart phones along almost without second thought, following all of the characters throughout the film. Inventive and simple, the cinematic tactic works to great effect!

A huge fan of the genre, Chronicle surprises and pleases. It may not have the glitz or glamour of the big tent pole superhero franchises coming out this Spring and Summer, but Chronicle brings the super-powered action/adventure back down to earth.

WORTH: Matinee or DVD

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