25 years after “Watchmen,” the tradition of stories that feature realistic depictions of people with superhuman powers has now been continued with a film that will set the standard for the superhero origin story for generations.
Director Josh Trank and writer Max Landis, in their feature-film debut, have crafted an honest and brutal tale about the darkest corners of the human heart in their new film, “Chronicle.”
The movie was filmed in the found-footage style popularized by the sci-fi monster film “Cloverfield.”
The main character, Andrew Detmer, buys a camera and begins to document his life. “Chronicle” is actually extremely inventive as the plot evolves, and Andrew’s camera becomes incapable of covering the demands of the action. The film finds more and more creative ways to photograph the characters with cameras that are in the world of the movie.
Andrew has a really crappy life. He’s kind of weird, and nobody in his high school talks to him, except the bullies who beat him up like clockwork. His mother is slowly dying from a very painful disease and his father is on disability. The disability money, however, is used almost exclusively to fund his father’s drinking habit. And when Richard Detmer drinks, he gets violent – and Andrew’s the only one around.
But a big hole in the ground changes all that. Along with Andrew’s cousin Matt, and Matt’s friend Steve, Andrew discovers what appears to be some kind of alien artifact buried in a field in the middle of nowhere. The artifact gives all three of them superhuman abilities.
At first, their powers are pretty limited. They can make baseballs change directions in mid-air, blow up girls’ skirts, and build Lego structures with their minds. But as they practice, they become strong enough to float Andrew’s camera around them, move cars, and even fly.
There is an inherent danger, though, in elevating ordinary people anywhere near the status of gods. Humans are, by nature, impulsive, emotional, and undisciplined. Especially teenagers. Slowly, Andrew’s baser instincts begin to manifest themselves. The final battle of the film is intense, brutal, and heartbreaking in the same tightly held breath.
“Chronicle” lives and breathes the utterly believable world it presents. Its characters are not particularly deep or complicated, but they are built out of people that we all know. These kids are our brothers, nephews, and cousins.
“Chronicle” grabs you from the first emotion-riddled frame and doesn’t let you go until the last one. If it’s given the audience it deserves, it has the potential to define superhero movies for years to come.
Story by Paul Morales | Arts and Culture Writer | firstname.lastname@example.org