5 Februari 2012
Director: Josh Trank
Producer: John Davis / Adam Schroeder
Scriptwriter: Max Landis
Casts: Dane DeHaan / Michael B. Jordan / Alex Russel / Michael Kelly
Cinematography: Matthew Jensen
Editing: Elliot Greenberg
Studio: Davis Entertainment
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Duration: 83 minutes
Budget: $15 million
The origin of a superhero is not a new thing for a superhero movie. Like any others, superhero movies always give sufficient background on how the hero gets his power and becomes the defender of human’s race. For instance, Batman Begins and X-Men: First Class tried to be different by developing the background of the main characters. Making the most of such story, Chronicles applies another point of view for the superhero genre although it might not be precisely about superhero but more to science fiction. It uses psychological approach on how the dark side of a human is more powerful with uncontrolled emotion, especially when the human has physical and mental ability above average. Spider-Man’s jargon might work for it too; with great power, comes great responsibility. The storyline in detail could gradually portray that since Andrew, Matt, and Steve found their superpower and how they deal with it when they have to live with it. They must be able to control their power for the humanity and fight their ego and volatile emotion.
Using documentary style like in The Blair Witch Project, Chronicles makes distance between the movie and the audience. It looks like watching amateur video in a rough motion that can make our eyes tired. However, the story and the visual effect is a perfect blend, making the audience easily fall for the film. It consistently employs camera point of view shot from any video recorders either from Andrew’s camera, other people’s camera, cell phones, CCTV, and any others. By these shots, a sequence of dramatic stories can be created and build the rising tense of the existing conflict throughout the movie.
Minimum budget results in just standard visual effect unlike big superhero movies in common. But then again, the documentary approach could develop realistic graphical effect, just like what you have watched in District 9. Telekinetic power to move small matters up to cars really looks genuine. You should also see when they are flying. In the climax of the movie, similar scenes might already be occupied in X-Men, Iron Man, or Hancock but its dissimilar realistic sense is incomparable.
The young actors performance is also great. The three main casts act naturally, especially the expressive Dane DeHaan as Andrew Detmer. He who is accustomed to playing for TV series also fit for the big screen with his act. This quiet and emotional figure is the central character for the movie since he’s the one that creates conflict for the story. DeHaan really fits for this semi-psychopath while Alex Russel and Michael B. Jordan as Matt and Steve make the best companions for him.
Chronicles is a turning point for superhero genre after The Dark Knight and Kick Ass. The documentary style is definitely unusual to use on superhero genre but the result is beyond expectation even without any musical illustration. It exploits the psychological approach more intensively compared to other superhero movies. It might remind us to a Vietnam war film, The Deer Hunter, that occupies similar method. How far could human survive in such a great psychological pressure? Chronicles can answer that with its environment situation, superpower, and the ego of each character.
Editor and senior writer at Montase, lecturer at film academy in Yogyakarta, film critics, and author of the book ‘Memahami Film’ (Understanding Films)