Thursday, March 1, 2012

Chronicle, Oscar Commentary & More


My first impression upon hearing of Chronicle was that it would be just another "found-footage" flick trying to imitate the success of The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity and Cloverfield.  But as trailers, commercials and reviews rolled in, I got more and more excited for a tale of three high schoolers who gain superpowers.

Yes, the movie is filmed from hand-held camera POV, but finds clever ways tied to the plot to get around the "shaky" aspect and overcome the limitations that would normally impose.  Other camera footage makes its way into the film as'll be amused at how and why.

After budding videographer and socially awkward Andrew joins his cousin and a popular jock investigating a strange underground cavern, the three young men discover they can manipulate objects with their minds.  With time, these powers grow and the stakes move from teenage pranksters to deadlier matters.

Andrew, coming from a difficult home and show signs of psychological damage, begins to lose sight of keeping their abilities secret and mostly harmless.  His inevitable descent leads to consequences both believable and explosive.

I was most impressed with Chronicle's special effects.  In keeping with the found-footage aspect, the effects are subtle and believable for most of the film, never too overbearing.  The final act lets the film cut loose in an exciting sequence that makes all that subtlety worth it.

Rating:  A-

*   *   *

So the Oscars aired last weekend and the entries were mostly underwhelming.  I was the least prepared I've been in years to make predictions, having skipped AMC's Best Picture Showcase for the first time in four years.  After seeing four of the nominees in recent weeks (btw...Midnight in Paris...very cute and amusing...B), I wasn't upset at that decision.  Last year's crop featured at least 7 films that were worthy of the title...none of what I saw this year came close.  I'm not especially excited to see The Artist, either, though I'm sure it's a fine film.

All told, it was an odd year for movies...but I suppose two months into 2012, I owe you my Best of 2011 film list.

10.   Horrible Bosses
9.     The Help
8.     Super 8
7.     Captain America
6.     Crazy, Stupid, Love
5.     Bridesmaids
4.     Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, Part II
3.     Moneyball
2.     Thor
1.     X-Men: First Class

Big on geek, small on real film cred...but that's how the MightyMartian rolls.