Saturday, March 10, 2012

Now if only these kids would drop by the set of "Glee" ... : "Chronicle"

So I haven’t been to the movies much the past couple of months. Not that big a deal this time of year – the dead zone before the spring flicks arrive. And really, once all the Oscar nominations roll in, won’t they just re-release “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance?”

The last movie I saw in Ye Olde Cineplex was “Chronicle,” and on opening weekend no less. That was more a coincidence than anything, but I was intrigued by what appeared to be a cross between “Carrie” and “Explorers,” only without a little tweed-jacket-clad River Phoenix.

Our plot, told in the everybody-else-is-doing-it fashion of “found video”: A high school geek whose life generally sucks ultimately ends up at a party where he, his normal-but-slightly-insufferable cousin and the most popular guy in school stumble across Something Weird in a hole in the middle of a field. Soon afterward, they notice they can move things with their minds. Hijinks ensue!

It’s actually a simple yet interesting premise, and the “reality” aspect serves it well. Had this been done Hollywood style – with musical scoring and, say, Michael Cera and Zac Efron – I would have cried foul early on. But here we have mostly unknown actors. That’s not to say they don’t bring it. The lead in particular – the geek behind the camera, and then floating it around – was especially genuine. Multiple reviewers have said the actor, Dane DeHaan, has a Leo DiCaprio thing going, and I see that. In any case, you can see why he thinks his life sucks, and why this new power could pose the greatest risk in his hands (or mind, I guess).

But back to the story. So if you were a teenager and all of the sudden could get your mindfreak on, what would you do? The way things unfold in “Chronicle” doesn’t seem far-fetched at all – that is, goofing off and one-upping each other before things get out of hand. Only now, the stakes are a bit higher when the put-upon kid decides to get back at all the a$$holes in his life. It’s all fun in games until someone loses a few front teeth. Or walls.

I’ll even give the directors a pass on the found footage front, which doesn’t hold up all the way through the movie. Yes, they got around some of the normal logistics issues by just having the guys float the camera around with their minds. They also use other video sources, e.g. security cameras and smartphones. But I wasn’t sold on every scene, and then there’s the big question: Who pulled all this stuff together? You know, if it’s just something we stumbled across one day …

Still, that’s a quibble, especially since by the time the other camera work was in play, I just wanted to see how this mess would be resolved. (These kids’ story, not the movie.) On the whole, the plot and performances worked, and the straight-on filming technique delivered both humor and drama in a raw and effective manner. Sure, nobody got doused in pig’s blood, but you can’t have everything, right?


At 9:39 PM, Anonymous slumus lordicus said...

Actually nodded off a few times in Ghost Rider 2.


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