So once again we have survived.

Chronicle

Yeah, CHRONICLE. I just shouldn’t watch these found footage movies, I guess. It doesn’t matter how good they are for their genre, I always think they pale in comparison to actual movies. But technically this isn’t a found footage movie, because they never claim that anybody found the footage, and they sometimes switch POVs from the one character’s camera to another character’s, or to security cameras. So it’s a footage movie.

I mean, at least it’s not another fuckin ghost movie. It’s closer to CLOVERFIELD, which is one I enjoyed well enough. It does use the computers to show you some things, it doesn’t follow the standard F.F. formula of long-slow-buildup-to-tape-ending-just-as-scary-shit-is-approaching-camera. It uses the gimmick to make a more naturalistic version of a familiar genre, in this case the super hero movie (specifically X-Men type super powers, not costumed vigilantism, thank Christ). If you saw UNBREAKABLE and were disappointed that it had good camerawork and that Bruce Willis starred instead of a whiny, pouty teenager, then you will like this movie better than I did.

A kid named Dane DeHaan plays who cares what the character’s name is, who is no Bruce Willis. His defining characteristics are that he is real unhappy with everything in life and yet insists on recording it all with his expensive new suprisingly-large-considering-today’s-technology camera. He has a cousin (Alex Russell) who is not as much of a wet blanket and is loyal enough that he drags him along to a party, where he proceeds to just stand around and record everybody even though he’s repeatedly told it’s weird and is even almost beat up by a guy whose girlfriend he records dancing.

I wonder, are there fans of this format, and if so do they always delight in seeing a new excuse for why the characters are filming? Oooh, this one’s not a student documentary, it’s just a guy who likes to record everything! Innovative! If so the fans get what they want: scene after scene of the cameraman having to justify even having his camera turned on. That’s what THE GODFATHER was missing, in my opinion.

At the aforementioned party whatsisdick, his cousin and his cousin’s friend (Michael B. Jordan from RED TAILS) wander outside and climb into a pit that has a big glowing crystal thing in it. They soon discover that exposure to the crystal thing has given them brain magic, like Carrie White. But Carrie didn’t have any true friends to confide in, these guys have two bros each to share this with. They goof around and practice and evolve their skills from doing tricks with baseballs and Legos to lifting city buses and making themselves fly.

The best section is the goofing around. Kinda reminded me of that scene I loved in POLTERGEIST where the mom plays with the ghostly-chair-pushing in the kitchen. The cousin’s friend is funny and likable, so they deal with the unexplainable with humor and teenage fearlessness (as opposed to POLTERGEIST Mom’s laughing about it to hide her fear). It’s young dudes making each other laugh and trying to one-up each other with different super-power tricks. JACKASS meets X-MEN.

But of course, one of them GOES TOO FAR… MAD WITH POWER, and I won’t give away whether or not it’s the pouty, whiny guy that you’ve been wanting to punch in the face since the movie started. I also won’t give away whether they follow the cliche of killing the black guy first or the annoying mistake of killing the most likable guy first. (Okay, they do both, it’s the same guy. Spoiler.)

I’m surprised they didn’t do more with the female character. They just say she’s a “blogger,” which I can tell you is actually short for web logger. Anyway they introduce her and give her some scenes but as far as I could tell the only reason she’s in the movie at all is to explain why they change camera angles a couple times. Seems kinda wasteful. In CLOVERFIELD the cameraman was way more of a character and I don’t think you even saw him more than once or twice.

They do a couple new things with the format. The guy starts using his powers to make the camera float around, so that way they get some crane shots in instead of all shakycam. But hey, why not just do a regular movie, then? Same thing with the ending, they find a way for a character to leave the camera behind as sort of a fuck-you to the other guy’s habit of filming everything. Wait a minute, so you hated it too? The characters didn’t even want the movie to exist!

I’m not sure what the deal is with the boring title. I guess the idea is that it’s a chronicle of something that happened, because the video tape chronicles what happened. Other good titles would be RECORDING, TAPE or FILE, I guess.

It takes place in post-Apartheid Seattle, by which I mean it was filmed mostly in Cape Town South Africa (and some in Canada) substituting for Seattle. I only noticed one driving shot (no actors shown) that was definitely real Seattle. They did manage to put in CG versions of real Seattle buildings, and a billboard for the Seattle Xbox Live Sounders soccer team, but they didn’t bother to hide logos for South African banks. One hint that it wasn’t made by real Seattleites is the pouring down rain in the car crash scene. Yeah, it rains alot here but not that hard – somebody would comment on that.

I know none of that Seattle stuff really matters to the movie, but it makes me sad that now it’s not even just filming in Vancouver for Seattle, now it’s going all the way to Africa. South Africa. I’m not usually big on giving out tax breaks to corporations, but here’s a case where I wish they’d do it to get more filming here.

There are pluses: lots of FX that mostly look good for a lower budget movie. Short running time. And I give it credit for not using the following cliches that I’m sick of:

-kid is obsessed with some made up comic book super hero character that inspires him
-hero/villain decides he needs a name/costume/nemesis
-people on news show or radio call-in give opinions for or against super heroes

I know some of you guys loved this one. I’m not trying to shit all over it, I don’t think it’s worthless, but I guess I don’t understand the high praise. I guess it’s not too bad considering what it is. I’m just not into what it is.


VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Monday, June 18th, 2012 at 12:23 am and is filed under Comic strips/Super heroes, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

52 Responses to “Chronicle”

  1. Vern selected a screen grab from my favorite scene, the part where it shows the first stage of serial murdering, tearing apart wee animals. It’s Renfieldian — same level of encroaching insanity but with fewer words and less overt mania than Bram Stoker used to depict his imprisoned bloodthirsty wacko in Dracula.

    I didn’t get a lot out of this movie, either, and I hated all the characters for all the reasons mentioned in the review except without the added disappointment of comparing anyone to Bruce. I’m ok with a lack of Bruce; coulda used more females, though.

    However, I enjoyed CHRONICLE for my one and only viewing, in the sense that it didn’t piss me off — nothing crazy glaring bad was going on that ruined it like some other recent sci-fi superhero/monster films — and that its silly camera gimmick surprised me by being technically interesting with good effects and maintaining a decent “What’s gonna happen next?” vibe.

    Was the climax not Seattle-y, Vern? Seemed specific to your city. Do you rain-loving northwesterners not walk by that statue everyday, wondering if a flying teenager will be impaled there someday in real life?

  2. I think that statue was in Capetown, although probly inspired by the statue of Chief Seattle at 5th and Denny:

    http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=chief%20seattle%20statue

    The Space Needle and other high altitude stuff were a fairly accurate computery rendition of the city, though.

    Unfortunately the best photography of the city is still the horse fucking documentary, the homeless teen prostitute documentary and the Dirty Harry ripoff with John Wayne.

  3. I hate to be “that guy”, but I can’t help but noticed you put some ads on the site Vern, I’m not complaining but I am curious as to why

  4. In case you all don’t know it, the director of this movie is directing the VENOM movie, a picture that I never knew people demanded. I mean seriously what good was Venom when he wasn’t trying to murder Peter Parker? He was boring.

    Griff – because he SOLD OUT to the Man finally. He’s currently wiping his ass with crisp $20 bills.

    He’s also got a pet tiger at his condo too.

  5. Griff: filthy lucre makes the world go round, we all gots to pay the bills. More $$$ for Vern means more mega-writing for us, so it’s all good.

    Vern: just make sure to toss a nickel out the window of your limo to us web surfing hobos so we can eat more fish heads.

  6. There’s a thread in the forum that deals with that stuff, Griff. It’s called “The Advertising” or something like that.

    I just watched this the other day and liked it a lot more than I thought I would. I keep coming back to this style of movie even though I don’t like most of them all that much. I still think there’s some kind of excitement inherent in watching expensive shit happen on a cheap format, though, so I keep coming back for more. I think CHRONICLE is better than most. Yeah, there were a whole bunch of moments where it made no sense for it to be filmed. Like SPOILER the hospital scene. Did a paramedic find the camera at the scene of the exploded gas station and decide not only to bring it to the kid’s hospital room, but to stop by the kid’s house and pick up his tripod first, and then turn it on, pointed right at the burn victim’s face, because he’ll obviously want to relive those memories for the rest of his life.

    But I don’t know, that’s part of the genre, I guess. It is distracting but it can also be thrilling in a self-conscious kind of way, like when De Palma pulls off some crazy tracking shot and it takes you out of the story because you’re trying to figure out how they pulled it off instead of just paying attention, but in a good way. Every now and then there’s a shot you just don’t believe (like when the girlfriend gets rescued from a falling car and never drops the camera) but you gotta accept that kind of thing if you’re gonna watch this kind of movie. You don’t watch a slasher movie if you can’t handle gore, and you don’t watch a found-footage movie if you can’t handle some hastily justified camera calisthenics.

    Anyway, I liked the movie . I thought the kids were believable, if not exactly likeable, like real teenagers, and the special effects were fun and on a larger scale than I’d anticipated. I agree that the fooling-around segment of the movie was the best, but I thought the descent into carnage was done reasonably well. I’d watch it again.

    Shitty title, though. Should have gone with APEX PREDATOR, even though that sounds like an Asylum mockbuster. Maybe that’s the new level of meta, making original products that rip off ripoffs.

  7. Darth Irritable

    June 18th, 2012 at 8:05 am

    This was filmatistically at best an OK movie. The one thing I really liked about it is that it put to rest this notion that giving a dork superpowers will automatically bring out the best in them.

    Yes Spiderman, I’m looking at you.

    On the superhero film, they need to give us Lobo.

  8. I didn’t like the movie all that much, so I don’t even know why I’m pointing this out, but I think the point of the original camera being big and boxy was that it was inexpensive. The kid can’t afford a new camera so he uses one that’s several years out of date.

    Like I said, not exactly something that launches the movie into the upper echelon, but I thought it was a good detail.

  9. I enjoyed Chronicle more than I thought I would. I hate pseudo-documentary, or found footage (or whatever the hell they’re called now), movies for the most part. It’s nothing but an annoying cheap trick that tries to hide the fact your watching a low budget movie. What’s strange about Chronicle is that they really could have made the same movie they ended up with regardless. Since they use multiple camera angles and the camera is not very shaky once the main character starts using his powers to control it, I don’t even see what the point was.

    Anyway, since I loved comic book origin stories as a kid, movies like this hold a soft spot for me. It’s the reason I like Unbreakable and the reason I like this. I like the fact that the teenagers did really dumb shit with their powers. It’s exactly what I would think a group of teenagers would do if they could do anything they wanted. The only thing missing was scenes of them raising women’s skirts 80’s teen movies style. Maybe this was meant as an update to the Scott Baio classic Zapped.

    If they had just done away with the video recording aspect it would have been a much better movie. As it is, it’s an enjoyable entry into the superhero/sci-fi genre and definitely one of the better found footage/pseudo-documentary movies I’ve seen. The only complaint I had, and it’s not really a complaint, is that the ending seems to be taken straight from the anime Akira. In fact the story line in general seems to have a lot of similarities to that movie. I’m guessing the filmmakers watched it once or 10 times.

  10. @Mr Majestek- They actually explain the reason the camera is in the hospital. It’s a dumb reason, but they do explain it. There’s a quick throwaway line about the camera being used for a police interview when he wakes up.

  11. So, do they explain who compiled and edited all this footage from various sources?

  12. Jareth Cutestory

    June 18th, 2012 at 8:46 am

    The other day I saw a guy on the subway reading an AV Club article on his portable device. I was trying to read over his shoulder, but gave up because it was too difficult. It was like watching a found footage version of the web site experience.

    I wonder if young kids raised on YouTube and “reality” television even notice that these films represent a distinct style of film-making. Maybe hand-held crap is simply the normal use of a camera for them.

    Majestyk: My experience with found footage films is a lot like yours. I think I’m the only person on earth who didn’t mind that reviled DEVIL’S SOMETHING OR OTHER film from earlier this year, even the dumb ending. When I was trying to decide whether or not my lukewarm opinion on such a reviled film represented a complete breakdown or my critical abilities, I realized that I’ve lowered the bar for this whole style of filmatism to such an extent that I’ll pretty much sit through anything it has to offer as long as it’s not populated with annoying douchebags (which is why I’ve avoided CHRONICLE). Only the third PARANORMAL ACTIVITY film struck me as awful.

    I think I watch these films with the part of my brain that I reserve for evaluating student films, like they’re not really films, merely tentative first attempts at film-making.

  13. Chitown: There was a scene where they lifted up girls’ skirts. Remember the part with the leaf blower?

    Darryll: I don’t think we were meant to take the movie as the literal document that had been edited together from the various sources, especially considering that the footage from the last shot (if I understand correctly) was never meant to be seen. The conceit of the movie was that all the action was viewed from in-world cameras, not that an in-world editor made a movie of the footage. In the world of CHRONICLE, CHRONICLE does not exist, whereas in BLAIR WITCH, BLAIR WITCH does. If that makes any sense.

  14. Knox Harrington

    June 18th, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Well, the South African film industry is very grateful for all the work you Yanks are giving us (hell, it’s how I make my living).

    Cape Town has been home to productions like Dredd, Doomsday, Safe House, Death Race 2, Death Race: Inferno, Blood Diamond and Invictus. Up next: Mad Max (but only after they finish the majority of filming in my country of birth, Namibia. I’ve been offered a job on the film, but half a year shooting in the desert seems just a little too daunting right now).

    As for Chronicle, I watched it just this weekend and quite enjoyed it. Admittedly, I am kinda fascinated by this Found Footage phenomenon. It’s a great way for low-to-no-budget filmmakers to come up with interesting concepts that will only work within a very limiting structure (which isn’t always a bad thing). Sometimes it can lead to some brilliant moments (my favourite being in Cloverfield where that old footage of the couple on their “perfect day” sometimes pops up between all the shots of people running away from Clovermonster).

    I thought those first flying scenes in Chronicle were great. It seemed more visceral and authentic than any of the flying I’ve ever seen in any other superhero film. Moments like that are what excite me about the possibilities of Found Footage.

    Unfortunately, it’s a structure that doesn’t lend itself well to editing (arguably filmmaking’s greatest achievement and resource). In many ways, the Found Footage template is almost a kind of counter-filmmaking.

    Cinematic storytelling is all about believability (William Goldman wrote a great piece in Adventures In The Screen Trade about why believability is infinitely more important than realism), and while some elements of Found Footage films may at times feel more “real”, it has this tendency to throw believability out the window and make us question its onscreen reality in a way that most normal films never do.

    I do think that something great can be done with it, but filmmakers need to be aware of what they’re really dealing with when they put on the “real footage” mask.

  15. Wow, I feel bad for asking for Vern to review this now. I think if it had been made as a “real movie”, it would have ended up being far more generic and have a lot of extra bullshit that films don’t really need, but always seem to have. We probably would have got more of the blogger girl love interest, the FX would have been far more in your face and more obvious throughout(as opposed to just during the climax), and the whole story would have been overexplained more. With the format they went with, they had an excuse to avoid a lot of that and mostly just focus on what the guys went through with their powers, and avoided giving us something that looked like I AM NUMBER FOUR or PUSH.
    I wasn’t that interested in it when I first heard about it, but a couple of reviews pointing out how it avoided the usual filmatistic baggage of fauxumentary movies like shakey cam got me interested, and I think the style really helps make the powers seem more real. I certainly thought these were some of the most convincingly flying scenes I’ve ever seen.

  16. I really enjoyed this. I don’t generally like the mocumentary style at all, but it was often cleverly used here.

    I though the whiny kid was played by a great actor. And I didn’t want to punch him, because obviously he had been punched by his father (and by other kids) since he was born. His extremely low self-esteem and passive-agressiveness rang true to life.

    The kids’ obsession with his camera was a result of his broken mind. The camera allowed him to build a barrier between himself and the real world, which was so threatening to him. The film clearly refers to this a a conversation between the friends.

    Great acting all around, very strong writing, very strong directing. Felt like a genuinely fresh take on familiar premise.

  17. Stu – don’t feel bad. I watched the whole movie and it was okay. PUSH I didn’t even get halfway into before I decided to turn it off.

    I agree that it wouldn’t be good or have a reason to exist if it was done in a normal Hollywood style like that. I was thinking more the raw documentary-ish style popularized by the Dardennes, some of the recent Van Sant, the last two Aranofskys, or WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN. So you have that “real” look but you’re not tied to the idea of always explaining why the camera is there and turned on and the audience isn’t distracted trying to figure that stuff out.

    But that’s just what I would like better. I know plenty of people like it as is.

  18. Nabroleon Dynamite

    June 18th, 2012 at 11:38 am

    I just bought this on Blu ray dvd at the pawn shop for 6 bucks Friday, but haven’t has time to watch it because my boo has spoiled me the whole fathers day weekend.

    Hope to peep this tonight.

  19. I still maintain there’s a certain unique kind of tension to be milked from this kinda setup that you can’t necessarily get through traditional filmatism. Maybe less so here, but keeping a single fixed perspective for the entire runtime robs the filmgoer of the usual safety net of being able to cut away from things when they get too tense. You’re stuck in there with the characters, unable to break away to a safe distance through the use of editing. Granted, CHILDREN OF MEN pulled that off using traditional film genius and was something like five hundred thousand times better than any “found-footage” film yet, but still, I maintain that the theory is a fundamentally good one. A better use might be to put long sections of first-person footage into a story which also uses traditional filmatism, i.e. the helmet-cams from ALIENS, only without cutting back to Ripley and Co. all the time.

  20. What I find odd about all these found footage movies is that the acting in them is almost universally terrible. You would think that the shaky cam aspects of the movie would hide inexperienced actors, but this hasn’t been the case for me. And even in some of the bigger budgeted found footage movies, like Cloverfield, I found the acting to be awful. Part of the problem is that the characters are, again, almost always grating. A lot of the problems I have with this format comes not from the aesthetics, but from basic storytelling issues like character and acting. Early on you could chalk this up to the fact that the genre suited inexperienced directors, since they were cheap to slap together. But now these are being handled by professional studios. I really don’t understand why found footage movies just can’t get their shit together.

  21. Not a found footage fan, but admired how this movie effortlessly wove the camcorder gimmick in with the kid’s state of mind. He buys it for self-defense, and it works, but he’s got such a besieged mindset that he thinks it’s a necessity for something as minor as his social anxiety at a party. The format subconsciously reminds us throughout where he’s come from and what he’s got to overcome, which maintained sympathy for a character I guess I wanted to follow more than you did, Vern. (As opposed to, say, the generic douchebags of Cloverfield.) And when the kid gets exhilirated, or disturbed, or grandiose, I felt it more than if the same events had been captured the same way but by an omniscient director. Most found footage movies feel like a cheap ploy to pass off the film’s events as realism; Chronicle didn’t seem to be out to be any more authentic than a more standard fictional narrative, but instead wants to wire you in to how a character inside the fiction processes it. That’s a lot more sophisticated than using shakycam to fake authenticity and cover cheap FX.

  22. Plus – the (SPOILER!) whole thing about Michael B. Jordan’s character being most likable and who the script sacrifices … I dunno. Joseph Kahn posted an on-point article about how after countless instances of nonwhite characters being tertiary to the struggles of the whites, it’s predictable and dispiriting to see Jordan taken out. Color me naive though because creating the most charismatic of the trio by far and then not being blind to the fact that the character doesn’t have to be cast white (like his name in the script supposedly suggested) and/or refigured for ethnicity hits me as a small win. (The naive part: I thought he might make it to the end.) It’s a grind that movies have this unwritten hierarchy and that the black guy is once again the expendable one, but this movie gave Jordan’s role weight that’s beyond that of a stereotypical device. IMHO.

  23. I have to agree. The fact that Jordan’s role and the character really had no ethnicity attached to it was a good thing. It was a good, likable character who just happened to be played by a black actor. Unfortunately, it just so happened that the likable character was taken out early as a matter of how the story progressed.

    It still sucks that we have to talk about it like it is a step forward when it really should go unnoticed. Just goes to show how not so multi-cultural or multi-ethnic most movies are.

    The movie was shot very well and I agree it would lose the more engaging point of view if it were shot like a normal movie. I thought all the actors did a good job and I can’t say there was a weak point to the movie because it all seemed very well thought out and plotted.

  24. Haven’t seen this one yet. I’ve warmed up a little to the found footage movies. I thought the PARANORMAL sequels did some really inventive tricks in camera, so it becomes a creative exercise in how you push this limiting genre.

    Of course that’s what happens when artists get ahold of it. The motivation for these is cheap marketable product. I guess as a film lover I can look at it as a movement and evaluate who actually did something with it, and what’s just another crappy b movie.

    It is kind of nice that it introduces new faces, but they could choose to do that in real movies too. And they do seem to make every character in one of these a douchebag, although maybe they’re douchebags because they only hire out of work douchebag actors. Chicken or egg.

  25. A serious question: The “the black guy dies first” thing…does it even exist or is this just something made up, that entered the public conscience and therefore became a “fact” like “the final girl must be a virgin” (or 99% of what you can find at TV Tropes).

    I don’t know about you, but I noticed that people first became aware of this, because of EVOLUTION, where Orlando Jones’ line about “the black guy dies first”, was used in every trailer and TV spot. Of course the writers of this movie must have gotten the idea for this from somewhere else, so maybe it IS true, but maybe they also got it from a popular stand up routine from a comedian, who was just referring to one single, but popular movie from that time or maybe just talking out of his ass. Kinda like when the kids these days believe that Walt Disney was an anti-semite, just because they heard about it on FAMILY GUY.

    Now I’m not a guy who religiously watched every single slasher movie ever made, so I can’t really comment on the truth of this statement. I know that in JASON X the black guy is even the last one to die (and goes out as a hero) and that the black guy in NIGHTMARE 3 survives, but gets killed first in part 4, but that’s pretty much all I know about this specific topic.

    I know that our society is still racist and that there are many movies outthere, that are racist. Sometimes on purpose, sometimes because they were a product of their time, sometimes more accidental. So I wouldn’t be surprised if one of you would answer my question with a long, long, list of movies where “the black guy dies first”. But isn’t it also possible, that we are just victims of a completely false popculture joke, that always comes to our mind when we see a movie, where the first person to die is “the black guy”?

  26. Nabroleon Dynamite

    June 19th, 2012 at 7:18 am

    @CJ not CH*

    Damn autocorrect!!

  27. This movie reinforces that I will never again listen to the general internet consensus when it comes to movies I’m unsure about watching. It was boring and predictable and I wish I could get the $6.50 that I spent on it back.

  28. Nabroleon: That is a seriously cool website, although I gotta say that it strays a little bit too far away from “The black guy dies first”. But thanks for the link.

  29. The Original... Paul

    June 19th, 2012 at 9:32 am

    Well I’ve said this repeatedly in other threads, but for the sake of completeness… sorry, Broddie, but I can’t agree with you at all here. I thought it was fantastic. Better than it had any right to be given the genre and story that it uses.

    That scene with the spider creeps me the hell out just thinking about it. And the movie is full of scenes like that. In addition to the engaging characters and realistic character-arcs (well, as realistic as you can expect from a film about three teenagers who develop psychokinetic abilities).

    Yeah, the story is predictable but that didn’t bother me because the characters were engaging, for the most part likeable without being flawless cyphers; and there was lots of interesting stuff done with them that wasn’t predictable from the start of the movie. (And any of you guys who’ve been reading my recent posts will know how just much this bothers me.)

  30. Good point, CJ. Now that you mention it I think it’s something that you see joked about in movies at least as often as you actually see it. And black rappers especially seem to have staying power in Halloween sequels and intelligent shark movies. We should probly research this more, but my guess is that it comes more from action movies where a white cop has a black partner who dies.

  31. The Original... Paul

    June 19th, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Also I would’ve bet a million pounds sterling that I liked this one far more than Vern. Different tastes, etc.

    By the way, in explanation of the first sentence of my comment above: I thought this topic was really old; I was surprised to see the review was only posted today. Thought it had been here a while, which made me kinda surprised I hadn’t posted my thoughts before in this thread. Ah well, it’s done now.

  32. Never mind, that websight has all the research we need. That’s great!

  33. The Original... Paul

    June 19th, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    Hmmm cross-posts.

    Vern – as regards the intelligent shark movie, I remember reading somewhere (here?) that L L Cool J’s character was originally supposed to die, and Saffron Burrowes was supposed to survive. They switched it up because the audience didn’t like Burrowes’ character.

    But certainly the “black guy dies first” thing, although I noticed it in this movie, bothered me a helluva lot less than it did in, say, “X-Men First Class”. Maybe because Darwin’s death in that movie comes across as pretty pointless except to give Kevin Bacon a “How evil is this guy?” moment, whereas Curtis’ death in “Chronicle” acts as more of a spur to get Andrew to go over the deep end. It gives the two main characters a sense of just how devestating the consequences of their new powers can be (although both, obviously, take this lesson in very different ways). I’m not, I have to say, so keen on the manner of his death, which seems pretty contrived, but I can’t say it really bothered me that much while watching the movie.

  34. The Original... Paul

    June 19th, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Yeah, that was a good link.

  35. Paul – I think the fact that it just re-explored too many of the same beats from AKIRA down to character moments just turned me away from the thing. It was just way too distracting for my tastes.

    Since this thread has gotten into “the black guy dies” territory cause of what happened in this flick it got me to thinking of one of my favorite 80’s horror joints; NIGHT OF THE DEMONS. It’s one of my favorites not just because of it’s absurdity but because the one black guy not only survives but seemed to be the smartest muthafucker in the entire movie (Ie: jumping out of a window cause it’s the only way out). How’s that for bucking cliche trends?

  36. Nabrolean… that is one of the best links I have ever personally clicked on.

  37. Paul,’I actual saw the original cut of DEEP BLUE SEA. lL always lives but so did Burrows. Test screening audience booed (including me) and it released a month later with the new ending. You can tell she’s been digitally removed from a three shot on the raft, eyelines and all. True story.

  38. A few obvious points that haven’t been said explicitly:

    – Found footage, if done well, makes implausible concepts seem more real. It’s a natural extrapolation of POV shots that work so well from slasher movie drek to THE SHINING. It keys into the fact that we all these days experience filmatic POV very often. It automatically puts you in the movie (again, if done well), which is what we all want from a good movie.

    – This movie had no shakycam at all. It was as watchable as a “footage” movie, so no points against it for not being able to see what is happening (which I thought was the main gripe with F.F.(?)). There seems to be no grounds for focusing so much on the format as such.

    – CHRONICLE’s real genre is not FF or comic superhero, but power fantasy, in the vein of LIMITLESS. It would be *awesome* to be telekinetic, and the film more than confirms that it would, yes, be extremely awesome. And made me at least feel some of that charge for its modest 80 minutes.

    So, as a “what it might really be like to be awesome” experience, I give it full marks.

    And are we really debating whether “the black guy dies first”? The list of notable *exceptions* would be extremely small.

  39. The Original... Paul

    June 20th, 2012 at 11:54 am

    Doc Z:

    “- CHRONICLE’s real genre is not FF or comic superhero, but power fantasy, in the vein of LIMITLESS. It would be *awesome* to be telekinetic, and the film more than confirms that it would, yes, be extremely awesome. And made me at least feel some of that charge for its modest 80 minutes. ”

    This is the most on-the-nose comment about this movie for me. You’ve hit its appeal exactly right there.

    Oh and Broddie – I hadn’t thought about “Akira” but yeah, you’re right, it does come across very much like the story of Tetsuo in that movie. Obviously though, it bothered you more than it bothered me in that respect. In fact I think this might very well be the best live-action version of “Akira” we’ll ever see (because I don’t hold out much hope for the “official” one right now).

  40. DocZ: Well, jusdging by the website that was linked to a few comments earlier the black guy doesn’t die that often first. (It’s just that he usually doesn’t survive the movie at all.)

  41. “A better use might be to put long sections of first-person footage into a story which also uses traditional filmatism, i.e. the helmet-cams from ALIENS, only without cutting back to Ripley and Co. all the time.”

    ….or the Night Vision segments in Silence of the Lambs?

    I wanted to add my voice to the pro-FF crowd. It was all invented by Rope as far as I can tell: Hitchcock’s Rope was not technically Found Footage, but it employs such a self-conscious camera conceit that it might as well be (there are no “cuts” in the film, it is all one continuous shot*). The plot concerns two dbags who have a party in their apartment, murder the first guest that arrives, and attempt to hold the party anyway with the corpse hidden in the middle of it all. Just to prove that they Can.

    The utility of the continuous-shot contrivance hits home in a particular scene: the body is hidden in this chest upon which the hosts have placed various party paraphernalia to discourage opening of the chest but yet to encourage the guests in milling around it. One of the guests wants to get something out of the chest at some point, and they start painstakingly taking each item off of the chest in order to open it. The hosts are occupied elsewhere. The brilliance of it is that you are terrified on behalf of the hosts that their cover will be blown, so you’re dying to know what they’re doing and when they’re gonna intervene. But you don’t get to see, because the camera is narrowly focused on the guest trying to get the chest open. You are utterly trapped by the perspective, and though you are desperate to know what’s going on to the left and right of the camera, you also realize that you won’t get to know because of the static camera.

    Found Footage has other usefulness besides this (several commenters have cited the appearance of extraordinary events in a mundane-seeming reality), but I think it’s fair to criticize Chronicle for not adequately using the suspense the format can induce.

    I’m actually somebody who kinda loves Found Footage movies and gets excited whenever I have the opportunity to see one, but found myself wondering Why in this one just like Vern and other detractors. I think one of the bigger problems is that the film bends so far over backwards to continually justify that somebody is filming; it proves that the filmmakers are self-conscious about their conceptual choice and know that it’s not really believable. I don’t think I’ve seen so much discussion of “Why are you filming this?” since this whole trend got started back with Blair Witch Project**.

    *Rope is actually three shots, as dictated by the length of a film reel, cleverly edited to appear as one.

    **I know there are earlier FF movies like Cannibal Holocaust, but would it be fair to say that Blair Witch is responsible for the CURRENT trend?

  42. I would’ve thought Blair Witch started it all but it still took ten years to really catch on. REC gets some credit and CLOVERFIELD did it but I think it was PARANORMAL ACTIVITY that made Holywood go “oh we just need a video camera and some no James? Let’s do that!”

  43. Honestly not for any sadistic reasons, I would love to see Vern do a series of reviews based on films written by *** ******. Vern is an aikido master in finding the worthwhile, the transcendent and the overlooked in the films of cinema of generally maligned creatives and I wonder if there is anything of merit in Xam Sidnals’ movies that the rest of us have been incapable of appreciating because of our collective acceptance of him as an unbearable social media presence and also because all of his filmed scripts seem to be a toxic combination of puerile and smug.

    I don’t actually really want Vern to do this, because I love the man and would never want to see him suffer and also think that his immense talents could be put to better service elsewhere, but a part of me thinks that if anyone could find some reasonable critical semblance of merit in ML’s work it would be Vern. Or failing that at least a better dismissal of it than “You only get jobs because of your dad” or “You’re a fucking hack”. I cannot stomach anything that the guy is attached to but I’m fascinated by the absolute division between the diametrically opposed camps who appraise the guy. Just doesn’t seem like there are any motherfuckers in the middle of it all looking at the whole circus from a distance with a bit more clarity and scope. And perhaps there shouldn’t be, truth be told. I don’t really know anymore.

  44. Who are you talking about?

  45. He’s talking about Max Landis, who wrote Chronicle. Everyone’s hate/hate relationship with him is my first experience with “I’m too old for this shit/Get off my lawn” because it seems everyone talks more about whatever enraging shit he twittered this week rather than the 3 movies he’s made, one of which (Chronicle) everyone seemed to like and the other two (Victor Frankenstein/American Ultra) nobody saw so I don’t know how good/bad they were. I guess the “I feel old” part is that I really feel perplexed about hating people because of Twitter. I’m totally out of the loop so I actually don’t know anything he said except the Mary Sue Star Wars thing that everyone got mad about. Maybe he really does say lots of dumb shit. All i know is the internet collectively hates him and as Mixalot points out, most complaints are retreads of “you’re only working because of your dad or white privilege and oh by the way your dad killed a guy. Waka waka”

    Side note: I always hate hipster assholes who say “You don’t like this? TURN THE CHANNEL!/DON’T BUY A TICKET!” but now I’m going to be that guy – I don’t get why people keep following him/subscribing to him on Twitter/Youtube if they think he’s such a putz. It’s like, you have to ACTIVELY take steps to hear what he has to say, why don’t you just not do it? It’s actually not analogous to changing the channel – following Max Landis on Twitter and then complaining about what he just said is like subscribing to HBO (well, for free) if they only play one show that you really hate. And this really isn’t a shot at Vern or anyone in particular, I know alot of people hear whatever he tweeted thirdhand, for instance I don’t have twitter but I seem to hear EVERY DAMN THING KANYE TWEETS because that’s what qualifies as news now.

  46. neal2zod- I don’t know about the “too old” part because I would have only just turned 18, but I remember being perplexed how everyone seemed to hate Uwe Boll back in 2005 when all he’d made was a couple of video game movies that made less than $10million and history has told us would have almost certainly been terrible or at least not very good had they been made by anyone they could have realistically got in the director’s chair. Granted, I did see HOUSE OF THE DEAD and, yes, it was terrible, but I don’t think I’d have even noticed it had Boll not ascended to geek pariah status shortly after its release.

    (As an aside I did enjoy RAMPAGE and to a lesser extent ASSAULT ON WALL STREET, flawed but entertaining and certainly very competent B-Movies, which despite their topical subject matter feel like something from another era in a good way)

  47. Just for the record I don’t follow ML on twitter, but I do visit a lot of websites and blogs where articles regarding him infiltrate the general flow of information on those platforms. So he is a creative figure whose “news-worthy” escapades do cross my periphery from time to time.

    The reason I brought it up is because he has a new movie MR RIGHT coming out and also his directorial debut is poised for release very soon. I think Max Landis is an interesting figure because, like some outspoken creatives before him, he consistently seems to blame the studio system for any failings relating to a creative endeavour he is attached to. And when he is questioned on the subject of his culpability in any film failure he immediately goes on the defensive whilst also being paradoxically self-deprecating and self-aggrandising. It’s that whole Kayne West duality thing. Accepting all praise, dismissing all criticism, and yet still playing the victim card while in a position of enviable status regardless of whether or not that position is earned.

    I think that maybe it’s the seeming and staggering lack of self-awareness in respect to what people are actually criticising him for, and his immediate disregard and buck-passing to any other authority other than his own to justify the failure (critical, commercial, artistic or otherwise) of the films that he has been attached to, that makes me ponder the man as an individual and his mindset as a creative entity. As a writer myself that kind of personality type is interesting to me.

  48. neal2zos – sorry sir, I missed your Kanye mention but you are spot on. That shit isn’t really any kind of news at all but it does frequently make the front pages of a bunch of sites I frequent, usually with a clickbait headline attached that is beneath their usual editorial process.

    I genuinely just want to try and empathise with a person’s point of view, and so when some bullshit Kanye or Landis or whomever news blasts across my screen my first response is “Well let’s look a little deeper into this to try to understand what might be going on with this individual.” Which is entirely my own fault for clicking on that bait. *Believe* me I know. But I’m honestly doing it with the best of intentions. I would love nothing more than for the popular collective opinion of a derided personality to dignify more contemplation than they are currently being granted. And I definitely have my own personal reasons for pursuing this agenda even though it doesn’t make a whole lot of rational sense and holds zero argumentative water in any way at all.

  49. *neal2zod – apologies for mistyping your name.

  50. I admit, I have a morbid fascination with both Landis and West. They’re like wrestling villains you love to hate. (Both would take that as a compliment I think.) I have never followed Landis on Twitter but I heard him as a guest on a couple podcasts and it was weird to hear such an aggressively obnoxious person get worse and worse and somehow win over the hosts who started out disliking him for having witnessed him throwing a “DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?” tantrum at a comic book convention. I kept seeing his movie pitches, which seemed asinine to me, praised on movie news websights, and then I learned he was infamous in L.A. for talking loudly during movies, which is hard to forgive. That so far CHRONICLE is his only movie anybody has ever liked makes it more interesting. It’s not like he’s David O. Russell getting away with yelling at actors because of the quality of his movies.

    But Kanye does fit that category. My fascination with him comes from the dichotomy of him being a sometimes brilliant artist and sometimes huge idiot. I find it frustrating because I want to love him for his music but usually hate him for his personality, as presented in his lyrics and interviews. And I’m an old man whose ideas of dopeness and wackness are completely out of step with the modern standards, so some of the praise for him confounds me. But I currently believe that he’s legitimately mentally ill and needs serious help before this turns out to be the last act of the biopic, so I don’t really get mad at him anymore.

    There was a time I used to read Huffington Post for political news. It wasn’t as bad back then but all the clickbait headlines stressed me out and I eventually learned to go cold turkey. I did the same with some of the news sights that annoyed me with the Landis coverage, and I’m trying to do the same with reading about Kanye. (Also clicking on “Trump” as a trending topic, which leads to profound disillusionment about humans.) So I get your point, Neal.

    Unfortunately I already gave one of the Max Landis joints a shot so I will write about him at least once. And I might have to watch VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN because I heard he does parkour. I would be happy if it turned out to be good. (I did watch DEER WOMAN and it’s definitely the best thing I’ve seen from him.)

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