Posted on Friday, January 6th, 2012 by Peter Sciretta
Yesterday, 20th Century Fox invited a group of journalists on to the studio lot to preview footage from the found footage superpowers film Chronicle. The film was co written by Max Landis (son of filmmaker John Landis) and Josh Trank, who makes his feature directorial debut (you may have seen Trank’s viral short film Stabbing at Leia’s 22nd Birthday). The story follows three high school kids who gain super powers — the power of telekinesis. The movie stars a couple young up-and-coming television stars — Michael B. Jordan (Vince from Friday Night Lights, Alex from Parenthood) and Dane DeHaan (Jesse from In Treatment). After the footage screening, I recorded my first impressions with Alex from FirstShowing. You can watch our short video blog embedded after the jump, alongside two clips from the film and a 60-second trailer.
Video Blog Reaction:
The footage was impressive in the way that it attempts to reinvent the superhero movie using a realistic found footage visual narrative structure. Most superhero films have the moments where the newly super-gifted hero tries out his new powers and is either forced or decides to become a crime-fighter. The best moments, which you can see in the trailer, are when the kids are testing their newly found abilities on the people around them in crude Jackass-style pranks.
What worked less for me was the story-driven dramatic dialogue exchanges, which definitely seemed more written than a movies like Paranormal Activity or Cloverfield. I’m also believer that “found footage” films shouldn’t violate the rules of a found footage film — mainly that it is believable that someone would be taping every single piece of footage in the movie, and that the camera angles seen realistic and naturally framed. There is a moment in the footage we saw that features the three friends talking on camera, as if one of the characters had placed the camera down somewhere that allows the camera to perfectly capture all of them in a shot chatting. This might be better explained in the context of the film. Also, it was explained to us that one of the boys eventually uses his telekinetic powers to have the camera follow him around through the air. While it makes sense that the characters in this story would have this ability, the steadicam like movements that result feel unnatural compared to the first person shots in the moments in the earlier half of the film.
I also enjoyed the clever yet realistic twists that the writers have brought to the genre — for example, the kids wear jackets and gloves as they fly through the clouds because of the cold temperatures. If superpowers were to ever find their way into a young man, the result would probably be something more like you see in the trailers for this film than anything you’ve read in Marvel or DC Comics. Thats said, the film escalates into comic book tentpole action you might not expect from the budget-conscious first person structure. This definitely excites me.
Exclusively released clip: Ball Test
Another Clip: Spider Test
Chronicle hits theaters on February 3rd 2012.