Entertaining Peery: Chronicle (2012) Trank.

February 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

Chronicle (2012) is director Josh Trank’s first foray onto the big screen and is penned by Max Landis (the progeny of John Landis.) The two pair up to make a superhero/villain film that is ultimately darker and grittier, especially so because the first act is pretty charming, than most offerings in the genre. I give it 3.75 out of 5.

The film is shot cinema verite in the current trend of “found footage” and the technique is polished by the story itself since the subjects are able to telekinetically move the camera that is filming.

I liked the film, it is a superhero film with a feeling of realism and depth. That said, of course, I locked in on sub-texts since I never take a film on face value.

Possible Spoilers after cut:

The film can be read as an allegorical message about the consequences of child abuse, the high cost of medical care, the internet, and the plague of bullying that impacts teenage America.

The trio of teens who find themselves with new found powers are typical high school archetypes:

Andrew is the impoverished, abused, loner, whose filming is creeping out the cheerleaders. His only friend at school is blood relative, Matt.

Matt is Andrew’s cousin who has figured out high school and is “cool” in his claim of opting out of the popularity contests, but I’m sure his imagine isn’t hurt any by driving that cherry muscle car.

Steve is the school’s perfect storm of popularity: running for student class president, on the football team, wealthy and sexually experienced. Steve has mastered the high school hierarchy.

 

Now inject super powers into the mix and these archetypes manifest the following:

Steve using his power to satisfy his charnel appetites: “She knows it’s better now,” and to plan a flight to Maui because it has women in bikinis. But he also has the best sense about practical application of the power and uses his popularity capital at the school talent show to attempt to raise Andrew’s profile.

Matt realizing immediately after they take their powers, “out of the backyard,” that they have to have guiding, moral rules about the use of the powers. His altruism also manifests via his lack of practicing the power,  his “normal” romantic pursuit of video blogger, Casey, and his stopping the vigilante justice Andrew attempts on his abusive father, as well as ultimately stopping Andrew.

Andrew’s problems do not end just because he has power: his mother is still dying and they can’t afford her painkillers, his father still abuses him, and he still can’t even seal the deal with a willing girl. If anything the powers speed him down a darker path. His respect of “enlightenment” related via his desire to visit Tibetan monks rather than Maui with Steve, turns dark with his Internet research into the “next stages” of evolution  (IE Hitler pointed to Darwin, too.) Instead of becoming DC Comic’s Superman, we see Nietzsche’s.

Dealt a bad hand and then given power, Andrew self-destructs. The allegory, I think, is that the power does not have to be paranormal for a person with a plight similar to Andrew’s to become destructive to themselves and others. I thought about Columbine while thinking about this film.

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