There is a cornucopia of ‘must see’ films opening over the next few weeks but that did not aid me yesterday when I was faced with only two possible viewings thus far unseen. I much preferred MAN ON A LEDGE – crime drama, great cast – but there was only an early morning session (who goes to the Cinema at that time of day? Do they serve cereal and eggs instead of popcorn ??) or a very late afternoon option, so I settled for CHRONICLE.

Last year I had almost bypassed SUPER 8 thinking it may be too juvenile. It was far from that and proved a very entertaining movie outing, so I hoped this may be the same.

Three male high school students find a deep shaft in the forest and venture to the bottom (as you do) where the discovery of a giant pulsating crystal seems to endow them with ‘powers’. Once they discover that have telekinesis aplenty, they set out to put it to practical use. Since they were probably texting in class when lessons such as ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ were being bandied about, this now becomes a ‘wish fulfillment’ adventure for 15 – 24 year old males. What do you do when you have the power to move objects? You get a leaf blower to lift girl’s skirts. Have LEGO blocks make their own tower. Freak out children in a toy store when stuffed toys dance about in front of them. Have baseballs suspend in mid air.

Soon however, they find their powers are much more vast than first thought. They can fly high into the stratosphere, slam through buildings. At this point the fun party is over and we just know it will all end in tears. One of the boys, Andrew, a nerd with no friends and an abusive father and dying mother, clearly has a wagon train of buried emotional baggage and cannot handle this sudden promotion from school and home punching bag, to top apex predator and ‘turns nasty’.

It is certainly not at all a bad movie and has some saving graces. It is the debut feature film for director Josh Trank and he does have some fresh ideas. The performances from the three boys are fine and considering his shoestring budget (maybe around $15 million) the FX are quite good. But on the downside – the worst aspect for me was the jerky hand held camerawork a la Blair Witch / Paranormal Activity / Cloverfield and similar. Admittedly the premise of the film is that Andrew from the get go is filming everything about his life (making a chronicle) with his trusty hand cam. But it is possible to use this method of shooting that gives ‘authenticity’ and an almost doco feel without those occasional whirling, jumpy sequences that make you wish you had consumed a dramamine before entering instead of a coffee. (Look at THE HURT LOCKER for example -– great use of hand held.)

The pluses include some rising new kids on the cinematic block here. Director Josh Trank and Writer Max Landis (son of John Landis) show strong promise of things to come.

Look this is really a soufflé of three standard movie plots. Superhero origins, sci-fi fantasy and a dark disturbed teenager. If it is not your preferred day out – avoid it as it is not that amazing. However, if fairly youthful escapism is sometimes your thing, it won’t hurt. And admit it – haven’t we all harbored the fantasy of unrestricted flight? The sheer naturalism of this movie makes it seem possible (given exposure to a UFO crystal buried deep in a forest somewhere outside Seattle of course.)





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