Chronicle (Josh Trank, 2012)

What's it about? Three teenage boys acquire telekinetic superpowers when they find a mysterious object buried in the woods. So they use them to become superheroes, right? Wrong. Being teenage boys, they use them to dick about and show-off, of course. But one of them wants to take things further and exact revenge on various people who have bullied him.

Is it any good? You know how most superhero films spend 10-15 mins showing the hero getting to grips with his new-found powers, before being called into action to fight super-villain and save the world? Well, this film pretty much ignores the saving the world bit, and concentrates solely on that 10-15 mins, presenting the much more realistic viewpoint that with great power comes a great responsibility opportunity to play practical jokes and have a bit of a laugh. Presumably, this more realistic take on the superhero genre is why the director opted to present this as one of those camcorder footage films (although it also uses CCTV, TV and phone footage as well). In one way, this brings something new to the found-footage film party, since the characters' telekinetic powers means the camera doesn't always have to be hand-held, and can float about freely by being 'mind-held' instead. But the same old questions with this approach rear their head. Who put the footage together? Would they really keep the camera running? Why don't they send a clip to You've Been Framed? And so on. It's hard not to think the found footage approach is a bit unnecessary.
That irritation apart, it's quite enjoyable fare, with appealing performances from the three leads as the jock, philosopher and shy social outcast. Indeed, as the plot starts to focus on the latter of these, the film that I was most reminded off was not a superhero film, but the 70s horror classic Carrie, which deals with very similar issues. Also impressive is that from a deceptively low-key start, there's a ramping up of both the visuals and scale as the film progresses, with a couple of set-pieces and an effects-laden climax that wouldn't be out of place in a blockbuster with 10 times the budget. All in all, it's quite good.

Anything else I should know? Max Landis, who wrote the film, is son of director John Landis (Animal House, The Blues Brothers, etc) and in true superhero film fashion, is currently writing the sequel. And hey! A quick bit of background reading reveals Carrie was indeed an influence on the film, as well as manga classic Akira. I noticed that without being told, so that must mean I'm brilliant.

What does the Fonz think? Diary of a Wimpy Superkid

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