The “found footage” movie has become so common place that it’s hard to feel excitement towards another dose of POV thrills. Chronicle, a low budget sci-fi thriller soon to be released by Twentieth Century Fox, is the exception to that statement.
That is why Sydney’s best and brightest film bloggers clamoured to an exclusive look at several scenes from the upcoming film and take part in a Q&A with director Josh Trank. Dressed in Steven Spielberg disciple garb (baseball hat, thick rimmed glasses) Trank broke down the movie for us (which is in post-production).
Yes it’s a found footage movie, yet Trank makes the point that Chronicle is different from over films of its ilk. In spite of its fantastical premise of three teen goofballs gaining superhuman powers, this is a film that tries to stay grounded in reality and focus on character rather than caricature.
Trank revealed that the main inspiration for the films feel and look comes from two unlikely sources: Werner Herzog’s moving documentary Grizzly Man and George Lucas’ ode to youth American Graffiti. His goal was to make a film that had the “emotional depth of Stand By Me and end of the world action of X-Men”. If these scenes are any indication he is on the right track.
The first scene is set at a rave where we are introduced to Matt (Alex Russell), Steve (Michael B. Jordan) and the fragile Andrew (Dane DeHaan). The three teens come across a large hole in the ground and upon further exploration find a mysterious light which will give them telekinetic and super human abilities.
Next scene portrays what it’s like when teen goofballs get superpowers. Cue a sequence in a department store where the trio test their new found powers on unsuspecting shoppers who have to contend with runaway trolleys and floating teddy bears.
This is followed by the most memorable scene of the day, as the trio find that there new abilities include the power of flight. Jump to a spectacular looking sequence of the trio flying above the clouds with there ever present camera – which they control telepathically – capturing every awe inspiring moment, with visual effects supervisor Simon Hansen doing a great job.
It is at this point that the scenes take a dark turn, with Trank imposing a moral message that power gained and not earned can lead to disastrous results, especially in the hands of someone as mentally fragile as Andrew.
First is an incident on the highway where Andrew wipes a Four-wheel Drive off the road. Next is his robbing a service station. Then comes a “bat shit crazy” sequence where Andrew terrorises downtown Seattle (the film was actually shot in South Africa) with his super powers even stronger and moral barometer off the rails.
Overall these Chronicle scenes promise a fun, thrilling and dark movie. Although this is Tranks’s feature length debut, he is proving himself to be an exciting genre filmmaker. Come early February we will find out if Chronicle matches the hype this presentation has whipped up.