Hi, may I have two tickets for Akira? …..Oops, I meant Chronicle, of course. If you thought the Americanized version of Akira had been shelved for the time being then you would be correct, but Chronicle still fits that bill.
Before I continue, I have to assume that the reader has either seen or at least heard of the 1988 anime production, Akira. If you have not, please click this link before continuing my review.
I dare the makers of this film to say this film was not influenced by Akira because that would be a flat-out lie. The question is does being a rip-off make this film bad? While I doubt this film will become a classic the way Akira has, you might be surprised to find yourself as entertained as I was by the end credits.
TETSUO! The movie centers around high school senior Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan), a loner whose only friend at the start of the film is his cousin Matt Garetty (Alex Russell). Due to his abusive home life, Andrew decides to start filming every aspect of his life. One night at a party, Matt’s friend Steve Montgomery (Michael B. Jordan) drags Andrew and his camera to a hole that is making strange noises and causing interference on the camera. The trio climb down and find an object of uncertain origin (it looked like a crystal but might have been living as it had moving nerve-like branches) that proceeds to knock them out and destroy the camera. Flash forward roughly two weeks and the three are displaying psychic powers that continue to grow in strength until things start to go horribly wrong.
TRILOGY OF TERROR Watching this movie, the words Peter Parker came to live by from his uncle come to mind. The three boys came to have great power; unfortunately only two of them were able to handle the responsibility. They had their fun and they constantly tested the limits of their abilities, but when someone got hurt, they tried to make rules to live by and only Andrew saw a problem with this. The worst part about that is that he didn’t get that they were trying to protect themselves as a group even more than protecting others. They were not any kind of super heroes, they were just three friends and the powers drew them ever closer. It becomes clear that the three are linked in some way, but that aspect of the story never gets fleshed out. Andrew is pitiable at the beginning when you see how his father treats him and how he is ironically powerless to help his mother. That pity fades as you see him shut out the friends that care about him and his mindset changes.
IT’S MAGIC! It’s pretty cool what fifteen million and some imagination can produce. Chronicle has very simple special effects that come together to create very cool imagery. Sadly, if you have seen the trailer, you have pretty much seen all of it. The football practice scene was a favorite aside from the famous teddy bear attack scene. Honestly, the trailer made the movie more predictable than it already was because you get to a certain point in the movie and think “well, I haven’t seen this scene yet, so that must be next.” Still, the effects were done well enough to create a small amount of “ooooooh” in the blockbuster film pre-season.
BLAIR WITCHIN’ Ninety-five percent of the movie is told in the form of a video blog and you really have to ignore it to enjoy the film. Andrew takes his damn camera everywhere, especially after his powers allow him to use it hands free. Some scenes actually make no sense whatsoever that he took the camera with him, even after he develops his “apex predator attitude.” I guess the audience is on set in this one and we just have to “pretend the camera is not even there.”
All slams aside, Chronicle is an enjoyable film. Yes, it does take a lot of its plot material from the Akira anime, but it was a good diversion during a the movie dry season. There were some glaring plot holes from the outset, starting with the source of the boys’ powers. We never learn what it is or what becomes of it. However, I think that may have been done on purpose. Along with the ending and the scene where the boys try to return to the hole, I have a feeling that the creators are trying to set up for a sequel. Oh yeah, the way the movie ends, you might expect something to happen after the credits, but nothing does. Chronicle could stand on its own or be part of a two to three part story, but we shall have to wait and see whether the story will continue.