28 February 2012

Review: Rampart

(Dir: Oren Moverman, 2011)

As soon as I heard that Rampart was based on an original story and co-written by James Ellroy, it immediately grabbed my attention as something I needed to see. Ellroy is my favourite author, foremost for writing the ‘Underworld USA Trilogy’ of books, starting with the incredible American Tabloid, but also for the ‘L.A. Quartet’ of books, the third of which is L.A. Confidential. This is how most people will know Ellroy’s work and L.A. Confidential is a very good film, but despite being a good adaptation it doesn’t get anywhere close to competing with what is on the written page. I think having read the book before seeing the film at the cinema has always meant I’ve been somewhat restrained in my praise for the celluloid version, which is testament to the writing. All Ellroy’s books are incredibly dense, with intricate labyrinthine plotting that’s full of corruption, duplicity, and vivid ultraviolence, all the while examining the dark souls of men in power and their extreme moral codes. The prose is electrifying, with a unique style that can change from book to book that just pops off the page and grips you with its perfect phrasing and diction. I can’t recommend the books enough, but they’re not an easy read and you need to know what you’re getting yourself into.

Watching Rampart you can definitely tell it’s from the mind of James Ellroy as all of the key ingredients are in place – it’s 1999 and corrupt Los Angeles police officer Dave Brown (Woody Harrelson) has just been videotaped violently beating a member of the public in the middle of the street. Much to the chagrin of the senior officers at the Rampart station he's based out of, this creates a media storm they don’t need as they are already dealing with multiple corruption issues in-house. This leads to Brown further spiralling out of control as he unwittingly keeps pulling at the thread that will cause his career to fall apart whilst his complicated home life unravels.

This is Harrelson’s film. He’s electrifying as Brown, playing the character with a menace that’s come from the corruption that has seeped deep into his core over all his years on the job. There’s no way he can change and he has no desire too, which is clear from his conversations with the top brass over what to do about his situation. He's intelligently loquacious and knows how to get his way, which we see in the scenes where he picks up women in a bar, most notably a lawyer played by Robin Wright who appears to be as deeply damaged as he is, but she's not the only one being used here. There’s something quite dark going on in the scenes between them, like they’re walking a fine line to destruction and it’s never totally clear what her agenda is. Brown's home life is even more complicated, having two kids with two sisters (Anne Heche and Cynthia Nixon) who live next to each other, whilst he lives amongst them but not really with them. They seem to resent him but put up with him, his eldest daughter actively despises him but the scenes of him bonding with his younger daughter give the humanity that’s needed to balance this character. As ever with Ellroy’s writing, relationships with women are never straight forward.

After another significant incident that moves Brown further into the crosshairs of his colleagues, the story seems to lose its focus, moving further away from what might be bigger corruption issues endemic in the police force. At the time of watching this was quite frustrating, but ultimately the film reveals itself to be a character study of a man fighting to survive any way he can, who can’t improve himself beyond where he is now. Any hinted at wider political machinations are just there in the background, never expounded upon. I appreciate that it wasn’t the intention of Rampart, but I would like to have seen more of this side of things as I think it would’ve given the film more intrigue, rather than relying on Brown’s past and what he may or may not have actually done.

I quite liked Oren Moverman’s direction. The film felt suitably gritty and raw, and the camera has an interesting momentum to it, regularly moving when you wouldn’t expect it too. In one scene in particular, when Brown is debating his actions with his seniors, the camera is constantly moving in a circular motion around the table, moving across and past people before they’ve finished speaking, cutting to the next person talking, or sometimes not even showing them, but the camera never stops. It’s unusual but quite intriguing, as is a shot of a conversation in a restaurant filmed from behind, but rather than being framed from over a shoulder or at an angle so you can see Brown talking, the back of the other person’s head completely obscures Brown. It's nice to see something non-traditional. Also worth a mention is the impressive cast that's been assembled - aside from those mentioned earlier, Sigourney Weaver, Steve Buscemi, Ben Foster, Ice Cube and Ned Beatty all pop up, mostly in small roles, but all of whom are good.

So did Rampart live up to the expectations I had based on Ellroy’s previous writings? Well, yes and no. The writing/dialogue was very good and the story was interesting to a point, but it could’ve done with more of the bigger picture rather than tightening the focus on Brown. Harrelson was excellent in this role, perfectly cast and thoroughly convincing - he is very good at this type of character, as we know. The direction had enough to keep it intriguing and I liked it’s stylistic little plays with convention, but overall the film didn’t offer enough to make it stand out as anything special. I haven't seen The Messenger, Moverman's previous film, so am unable to compare it to that, but Rampart is a better film than Street Kings, Ellroy’s last screenwriting effort, which also featured many similar themes. It's fair to say that L.A. Confidential remains the definitive on-screen statement for Ellroy's writing.

24 February 2012

Review: Hesher

(Dir:  Spencer Susser, 2010)

I find the perceived marketability of smaller independent films, or lack there of, quite an interesting subject. Audiences for such films are open minded, like to be challenged and are usually willing to watch most things. So what causes an interesting looking independent film with a 'name' cast to be totally overlooked? This is the case with Hesher - a film with three well known names/faces which only managed a limited US theatrical release and premiered inauspiciously in the UK on DVD (not even bluray!) a couple of weeks back.   

So why is this? Maybe it’s because Hesher is a surprisingly downbeat film, which I wasn’t really expecting from what I knew of it. It’s about T.J. (Devin Brochu), a young teen boy who recently lost his mother. He is bullied at school and seems to have no relationship with his father Paul (Rainn Wilson), who is lost in a terminal pit of depression. They live with T.J.’s well meaning grandmother (Piper Laurie) who is doing her best to look after them. Then Hesher (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) inadvertently comes into T.J.'s life and things take a turn for the worse. Hesher has long greasy hair, offensive tattoos and a penchant for walking around topless. Hesher drives a big black run-down van from which he is constantly blasting Metallica. Hesher doesn’t give a shit about anything, doing what he wants when he wants, with a nihilistic attitude towards everything. And so Hesher decides he is moving into T.J.’s Grandma’s garage, without much resistance from anyone except for T.J..

Why is this? Is this Hesher’s way of having a family? Perhaps. He’s clearly a terrible house guest, walking around in his underwear, possessing no table manners and seemingly rebelling against normal societal rules. But the adults don't really object. Surprisingly he manages to bond with the Grandma and seems to respect her. I found that quite interesting. On the other side of things you could say that he sees T.J. like a little brother, sometimes he’s hard on him but at other times he’s trying to help him, even if help comes in the form of pyromania and general destruction. Gordon-Levitt has created an interesting character here – there’s something beneath the surface but you never really know what as there’s no real background given, and we don't know where his family is and why he needs somewhere to live. But that only serves to make him even more dangerously enigmatic. As does the way he makes valid observations and gets his point across, all in his own obliquely pornographic terms. The “one ball” story is a great and funny example.

That’s the other strange thing about Hesher - it's actually quite funny at times. Almost dissonantly so with the depressing storyline, but that levels things out a bit and makes it more interesting. Brochu also does a great job as T.J., who just seems to keep going when life (literally) keeps hurling him off his bike. His one ray of light comes in the form of Nicole (Natalie Portman), a dowdy supermarket check-out girl who saves him from his bully and befriends him. She is older and he quite predictably develops a teenage crush and so is desperate to keep Hesher away from her, which is not easy due to his habit of showing up out of nowhere, like a demented guardian angel who isn't always needed. Portman is fine in this role, if a little underused, and it should also be mentioned that Wilson is pretty decent too – staring into a black hole, not knowing where to go, looking like an unshaven slob. The grief surrounding him is palpable.

So I think that may be one of the reasons why Hesher slipped through the cracks. A preponderance of grief doesn't usually seem to play well to audiences and thus is perceived unmarketable (look at the fantastic Rabbit Hole which didn’t do well, or Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close with it's recent lacklustre opening weekend at the UK box office - although it had other issues). It’s a shame that Hesher will be overlooked because it’s a good, interesting film, that’s well acted and has a satisfying conclusion. And to throw out a slightly perverse idea - teaming this up with 50/50 would probably make a good if strangely depressing double feature.

20 February 2012

Review: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

(Dir:  Stephen Daldry, 2011)

You know when you watch a trailer for a film and think, “there’s absolutely no way I’m going to watch that”? That was my thought sitting in the cinema when I first saw the trailer for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. It was also the same thought that came to me the many subsequent times I saw that trailer. There was something detestably mawkish about it, which usually makes me want to run a mile in the opposite direction. So what happened? How comes you're sitting here reading my review of something I clearly didn't want to see? Well, the Oscar nominations happened and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close was nominated in the Best Picture category, which was a surprise to most, especially considering some of the superb films that got overlooked (Drive and Shame to name two). So I figured some objectivity and, more importantly, an opinion was required on this film.

The story of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close focuses on nine year old Oskar (Thomas Horn), a precocious, intelligent boy, who loses his father Thomas (Tom Hanks) in the World Trade Centre attacks on September 11th. A year later Oskar accidentally finds a key that he believes his father has left him, and sees solving the mystery of what it opens as the final mission from his father. Presuming it is something important he quickly deciphers the one clue on the envelope containing the key, and proceeds to traipse across the entire city of New York, meeting a variety of people on the way as he desperately tries to find the answer. This is all completely logical for Oskar who was used to his father setting him mysteries to solve that might involve some exploration of the city.

The father / son relationship is what drives Oskar. He looked up to his father and completely connected with him, whilst the relationship with his mother Linda (Sandra Bullock) is seemingly non-existent. Oskar even seems to prefer to talk to his paternal grandmother over his actual mother, who only lives across the street. In fact, it was only afterwards that I realised how little dialogue there actually is between son and mother (both before and after Thomas dies), which explains why things at home seem unnatural and don't quite sit right through the whole film. This is especially true when she doesn't appear to care that her nine year old boy might be running around New York on his own.

Actually it’s not entirely on his own. His grandmother is renting a room to an elderly man known only as The Renter (Max Von Sydow), who is unable to speak. Oskar inadvertently befriends him and he joins in on the weekly planned expeditions to find the lock for the key. Inevitably The Renter has a secret which is patently obvious from the outset, but the dynamic between the two is one of the more faintly interesting aspects of the film, as Oskar treats him as a conduit for what he’s missing most. However it’s frustrating that this relationship is developed more so than that with his mother. Yes she is grieving as badly but that seems the only common ground they have and he seems unable to accept her because she isn’t his father. But why is this? Why in the flashbacks did they not seem to have much of a relationship before "the worst day"? I'm not really any the wiser. It would have been more satisfying if the film had explored and explained this side of things.

Anchoring the grief and loss around the World Trade Centre attacks feels like a bit of a manipulative cheat, chiefly because it doesn’t really serve any purpose. Perhaps it does in the Jonathan Safran Foer book the film is based on, but on screen it seems to be used solely as a tool to hook audiences in, and gives characters an overly obvious reason to sympathise with Oskar. The greater point the film seems to be making about random acts of violence without any reason could easily have been made, and probably more effectively, using a less awkwardly hyperreal example.

Ultimately Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close felt like a pointless film. I really don't think it had much to say aside from an obsession with paternal relationships, and the resolution to the search for the lock is unsatisfying when considering it's importance to the plot. I don't think the film even serves as a particularly effective meditation on grief (watch Rabbit Hole for a good example of that). Horn puts in a very good performance as Oskar, but the character veers too much between likeability and irritation for you to really care about him. Hanks and Bullock are both decent enough in small roles and Von Sydow is good, but there’s nothing particularly special about his performance either. Although Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close turned out to be not quite as bad as I was expecting, it’s a very middling film and not something I’d recommend. With that in mind it's pretty inexplicable how it could be considered worthy of a Best Picture nomination in any awards ceremony. 

13 February 2012

Review: The Woman In Black

(Dir: James Watkins, 2012)

Ghost stories, perhaps the most quintessential part of horror lore, seem to have recently been fading into the background of horror filmmaking like a just glimpsed apparition. Aside from the recent run of Paranormal Activity films and the Japanese penchant for a good ghost story, there hasn’t been much of note, with the horror genre preoccupied by remakes of old slasher properties and attempts to shock audiences in nastier ways. So it’s pleasing to see The Woman In Black arrive on the big screen and offer another ghostly experience, although it’s telling that it’s based on an early 80’s book and the subsequent legendary London stage adaptation that started it’s lengthy run at the end of that decade.

Set in Edwardian times, the story follows young solicitor Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe), a widower with a four year old son, who is sent to a small remote village in north east England to manage and close the estate of a recently deceased client. It’s a three or four day job with a mountain of paperwork to go through, but he finds the local villagers less than hospitable; they want him to return to London immediately and very strongly discourage him from visiting the estate itself. Fortunately for Kipps he manages to make one friend, in the shape of wealthy local resident Sam (Ciarán Hinds), and of course he quickly manages to make his way to the imposing Eel Marsh House where strange things start to happen.

If you want to create an effective ghost story then the setting is obviously key and the design of Eel Marsh House is spot on. It’s an impressively dark, eerie looking building, isolated on its own little island in the middle of marshland, where at various times of the day the solitary track leading to it is submerged by an incoming tide. Truly there is no escaping this dark hulking terror if the tides aren’t in your favour. The wild overgrown grounds with the small cemetery and the damaged wrought iron gates at the entrance all add to the effect. Inside are the relics of a wealthy family that is no more, with a certain grand opulence hidden in the darkness and beneath dust sheets, presented with an oft seen clichéd creepiness. It’s all very well put together so it feels a little disappointing when the film frequently moves away from the house to scenes in the village or on Sam’s estate.

In fact I think it’s this movement between different locations that kills off some of the creepiness throughout the film. Yes there are more strange goings-on away from the house and the hostility of the villagers is quite interesting, but these scenes don’t offer as much potential for mounting terror as those at Eel Marsh House and it just don't get the opportunity to build effectively. As a result most of the ‘horror’ comes from cheap thrills and jumps of the loud noise / something quickly moving variety. It really is only late on in the film when back at this location for a good period of time that The Woman In Black can sustain and build on this mood, leading to a few effective scenes. In particular there is fantastic use of some old wind-up animal toys - they almost look real and and are shot with the candlelight reflecting in their obsidian like eyes, suggesting a life observing all manner of tenebrous secrets. The design of the woman in black herself is fairly perfunctory. A black dress with a veil in a dark sinister environment – it does the job, although she’s not exactly the scariest ghost in film history.

Radcliffe is well cast as Kipps, successfully breaking off the shackles of the role that will probably forever overshadow his career. He is believable and even with the burden of grief he carries, likeable too. Despite seeing things that appear to be unreal, he stays level headed and is determined to solve the mystery, so we are rooting for him. I was also pleased to see Hinds given a role with a bit more to do, as in most of the many films he’s recently cropped up in he only ever seems to play a minimal part. The cinematography is excellent throughout, with some beautiful looking visuals making the most of the many dark spaces and the foggy desolation of the area surrounding the house. It’s clear a lot of effort went into making the film look good, successfully so.

Overall The Woman In Black is a quite entertaining and well put together ghost story. Although I personally didn’t find it particularly creepy, that's probably due to my feeling like a jaded horror fan most of the time, with it usually taking more than what was on offer here to get a reaction from me. There may be too much effort put into trying to make the audience jump rather than sustain terror, but there’s something quite classic about The Woman In Black's nature that I liked, which I think has been missing from the genre these days. 

11 February 2012

Review: Martha Marcy May Marlene

(Dir: Sean Durkin, 2011)

Cults. There’s something inherently interesting and scary about them. You usually have a narcissist who is obsessed with power or control and wants followers, and manages to sucker (or force) those who are damaged or easily led into joining. Whether the ideology of the cult ends up being purely for polygamist reasons, a result of religious fervour, or to satisfy some sort of anarcho-destructive / self sacrifice craziness; they always appear to be outposts of the slightly insane.

Which leads us into Martha Marcy May Marlene, the highly acclaimed debut feature from writer / director Sean Durkin, about a girl who decides to flee from the cult she joined a couple of years prior. The film starts with the girl, Martha (Elizabeth Olsen), contacting her estranged sister Lucy (Sarah Paulson), who is quick to come to her aid and take her to the lakeside holiday home that she and her husband Ted (Hugh Dancy) are staying in. The story follows Martha as she recuperates and slowly re-adapts to the ‘real world’, whilst in flashback we see an abridged account of her life in the cult. She is named Marcy May by Patrick (John Hawkes), the cult leader if you will, with what appears to be his sons and a number of young women making up the other members. They are based in a farmhouse somewhere vaguely rural with a goal seemingly towards self-sufficiency, but they hold a dated view towards women (the men eat first for example) and everybody shares everything and everyone. 

This is a film that shows the damaging effects experienced by someone suckered into such a situation. Martha, whilst staying with her sister, is constantly on edge. So many little things happen in the every day life here that are little reminders of what she escaped – she seems to be constantly haunted yet at the same time is struggling to pull away from the past, especially as issues with her sister slowly begin to flare up. Which family does she really feel part of? And the word ‘family’ is the big con that’s used to willingly reel girls into this life. Yes an essence of the familial may exist, but surely the subjugation and controlling sexual atmosphere they put up with is not worth this? Hawkes is very convincing as Patrick – he has a certain relaxed smoothness on the exterior, but underneath he exudes something more predatory and controlling that instantly makes you wary. 

But this is where one of the key problems with Martha Marcy May Marlene lies, which unfortunately restrains it. There is no attempt to explain or rationalise why the girls so willingly choose to join this ‘family’. Yes it may be painted as rosy from the outside, but the girls who have already joined seem content with what they have and readily lead new girls into this life. Marcy May is complicit in this too. The psychology behind this is fascinating but it remains unexplored, with the filmmakers only giving the merest hint as to why Martha decided to join, which isn’t enough. Tackling the after effects rather than the cause seems the easier and less interesting route to take. The other key failing comes from the implied threat of Martha being tracked down by Patrick after she has fled. You can imagine this would lead to a life spent constantly looking over her shoulder, worried. We are given an additional reason for Martha to be fearful, but the film manages to fall flat in this area by offering the audience very little tension. It all feels a bit too loose and casual.

A lot of praise has been lavished on Olsen for her performance as Martha / Marcy May / Marlene (the latter name is explained in the film) and she does do a great job. She convincingly portrays a girl slowly being driven crazy by her past, which is effectively filled with a mixture of trepidation, fear and at times a wide eyed willingness and wonder. She balances this well. Sometimes she is dripping with a palpable sexuality and other times you just went to tell her it's all her own doing and to get a grip. It’s a nuanced performance. The acting is better than the direction it has to be said, which suffers from being overly languid, suffocating any real threat from the story. The ending is also mightily unsatisfying. It’s one thing to aim for ambiguity but it’s another thing to just seemingly end the film without

Yes that was intentional; it may seem like lazy writing but that's exactly what the ending felt like. 

I thought Martha Marcy May Marlene was an interesting film with two great performances, but ultimately I left feeling underwhelmed. It took a few days to gather my thoughts, primarily because I really wanted to like it but I was struggling to see how it actually delivered. The problem was it didn’t totally deliver and there are other directions I think it should’ve explored. It’s a good film but I honestly don’t think it lives up to some of the rave reviews it’s been receiving.

7 February 2012

Review: Young Adult

(Dir: Jason Reitman, 2011)

Young Adult has the credentials of a potentially good, interesting film. Jason Reitman is in the directors chair and this, his fourth feature, follows on from the Oscar nominated and really rather good Up In the Air. Diablo Cody wrote the script, and after the misfire that was Jennifer’s Body she needs to prove that Juno wasn’t a fluke. Charlize Theron is cast as the lead – an ever reliable and interesting actress who I think most forget won an Oscar back in 2004 for Monster. And supporting are Patrick Wilson and Patton Oswalt, both of whom are dependable. So this should be good right?

Unfortunately the answer is not really, the blame for which I put on the shoulders of the story and script. We’re introduced to Mavis (Charlize Theron), who is a reasonably successful writer of young adult fiction. She escaped the small town she’s from, but even in her mid thirties doesn’t appear to have fully grown up. We join her at the point of almost mid-life crisis when she decides she should return to her hometown to get back together with Buddy, her high-school sweetheart, who is now happily married and with a newborn baby. On her return she also runs into Matt (Patton Oswalt), one of the geeks from her year at school, whom she now begrudgingly befriends.

Both Theron and Oswalt are well cast – Theron plays Mavis with a sense of teen like ignorance, flitting between the slobbish and the stunning, but always with a sense of entitlement and arrogance. It is a very good performance. Oswalt is thoroughly believable as Matt, who similarly doesn’t appear to have moved on that much from his teenage years, but is stymied by an event from the past and the resulting physical defect.

Unfortunately good acting is not enough to save a film when the lead character is so unlikeable. Mavis’ petulance does very little to ingratiate her with the audience. You just want to shake her and tell her to grow up and stop acting like a delusional idiot, as well as wanting to see her fail on this mission she’s on to win Buddy back as it’s such a ridiculous idea. Yes it’s in fitting with the character, but there’s no way we can root for her. It’s even more implausible because Buddy’s character is so thinly drawn - he loves his wife and new baby but is exhausted as all new parents are. That's pretty much all we get, and we can’t see for ourselves why it's worth going to all this effort to win him back. Clearly they had something in the past but there's no tangible evidence beyond knowing it was teenage love. This is no fault of Patrick Wilson, there just isn’t enough in the character for him to work with.

It’s difficult to comment on Jason Reitman’s direction when it serves such an inanely frustrating story. There is a visual symmetry to his previous films in that he knows how to make America’s second or third tier cities look dull and mundane, focusing on their hotels, apartment blocks and retail parks. There’s definitely an effective soulless reality to that, but it does little to lift the film.

Ultimately Young Adult is a great example of how good acting can’t save a film when the story is dull and uninspired. It doesn’t even offer much humour, which is something that could’ve made a difference in negating the unlikeability of the lead character. It seems to be one of those films where an inability to relate to the characters and their actions and situations completely hampers enjoyment. As I was in this position I found very little to like about Young Adult and would struggle to recommend it to anyone, unless of course they think they can see a little bit of themselves in Mavis.

6 February 2012

Review: Chronicle

(Dir: Josh Trank, 2012)

The “found footage” style of filmmaking appears to be becoming more prevalent these days although I get the impression that a lot of people are finding it increasingly tiresome - it can certainly be hit and miss whether it works or not. The shaky nature of the camerawork can be off-putting for many, and some things just look better when presented with a more cinematic hue. However this style can really suit a certain type of story. Two of the best recent examples, [rec] and Cloverfield, put the viewer right into a crazy situation and let the events unfold with a heightened sense of reality far more effective than more traditional filmmaking, traversing the subconscious barrier between knowing you’re watching something fictional and what looks like reality. For the right story it can add a lot. I wish I could’ve seen The Blair Witch Project on it’s US opening weekend, where the marketing campaign was so effective that audiences genuinely believed it was real. In the intervening months up to the UK release it's true nature was revealed, but to have seen it with even a little bit of doubt as to whether it was real or not would’ve made it even more impactful and frightening. Unfortunately this style of filmmaking can probably never get back to that position again.

So by now it must be pretty obvious that Chronicle is filmed as if it’s a “found footage” movie. The question of whether this was the right decision is no doubt a divisive one, but I fall on the side of yes it was. The technique has really become predominantly associated with the horror genre so I found it quite refreshing to see it used in something slightly different. Chronicle follows three high school students, Andrew, Matt and Steve (played by Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell and Michael B. Jordan), who stumble across a hole in the woods containing something unexplained (and thankfully it does remain unexplained ) – something that passes on a new ability to each of them, making them unique and powerful.

Andrew is essentially the lead character and the film begins with him explaining why he is going to film his life. It’s interesting how this style of film needs to explain why the film is being filmed in the first place – a justifiable reason avoids it feeling contrived and stops you wondering why in some scenes the person behind the camera isn’t helping the people being filmed (as I said, it’s predominantly a technique used in horror). Back to Andrew – he’s a social outcast at school, his only friend appears to be his cousin Matt, his father is violent towards him and his mother is seriously ill. He has issues. Although at first this reasoning for filming seems a little lightweight, as soon as the powers are received the decision to document what they can do seems justified. On top of that a very clever conceit is introduced later on with regard to who is doing the filming.

As you’d expect with a story of this nature there’s a lot of fun to be had when high school kids realise they have "super powers". There are some very good, funny scenes where they surreptitiously test out in public what they can do, and a fantastic scene where they realise what they can really do with their powers. However things inevitably take a turn for the worse and get darker, and it’s at this point I think the film loses it’s sense of wonder and takes on a more generic feel, going down a predictable route. It’s a little disappointing because I’m certain there are more interesting directions it could’ve gone that would’ve lived up to the rest of the film, although that’s not to say the last third isn’t entertaining still.

One thing that was unexpected was the film providing a little food for thought when I left the cinema. Everyone has of course wondered what they would do with “super powers”, but Chronicle presents a more tangible reality of what it would actually be like if this happened (unlike whatever the latest big screen comic book origins film portrays), showing the wonder as well as the potential negative physical side effects (a nice little touch that runs through the film). But alongside that it made me question how the public would actually react if they saw someone flying for example? How would it change our perception of the world and mankind’s limitations. Would it actually make us strive to make ourselves better? I wonder if I was the only who left the cinema thinking these things?

I liked Chronicle. It’s a neat, pretty smart little movie, and I think writer Max Landis and director Josh Trank deserve credit for that. It also happens to be a lot of fun, and the cast (particularly Matt and Steve) are likeable. My only real complaint is the direction it decided to go in the last third but it’s not enough to ruin the film. If movies are supposed to be about creating a sense of wonder, Chronicle delivers in spades.