W ritten By Merwyn:
There has been plenty of hype surrounding the small film called ‘Chronicle’. Though the film is still a few weeks away from release, early previews and trailers have screened with rather exciting results. In addition to that, we’ve also just learned over the past couple of days that director Josh Trank is the front runner to direct the reboot of ‘Fantastic Four’ for Fox. And judging by the 20 minute preview that both Geoff and I ,along with several other bloggers, were treated to, it comes as no surprise at all that Trank is a great candidate for that role.We arrived at the screening, where we went through the necessary security clearances. After taking our seats the lights dimmed down and we were introduced to the film. For those who might not yet know about it, ‘Chronicle’ takes a whole different spin on the “found-footage” genre. It tells the story of three teenage hooligans who gain superhuman powers and come to terms with their new found abilities.
The film is also the feature debut of Josh Trank. Trank, whose most notable work thus far has been as second unit director, writer and editor on the Patton Oswalt starring film ‘Big Fan’, broke the film down for us; giving a detailed look into the ideas and inner working of the film. The film which is currently wrapping up post-production has a unique tone and follows a distinct moral premise that is grounded in its characters.
We were first shown the trailer (which by the way, looks a lot cooler on the big screen) after which point Trank came out and introduced the clips for us. The clips that were shown aren’t exactly new but rather extensions from shots that we’ve seen in the trailer. It starts off in a rave party where we are introduced to our three hooligans Andrew, Matt and Steve. Here, we learn of Andrew’s obsession for recording everything around him. Trank also provides a unique insight into how the found-footage elements are viscerally incorporated as part of the story: citing Andrew’s tumultuous lifestyle at home. Soon after, the three discover a hole in which they hear a distinct rumble and a faint light which grants them their superpowers.
The next couple of scenes follow up with the trio discovering their powers and learning how to control them. They experiment with their powers in a department store, amongst each other at a local cafe and against a group of girls at school. The most interesting moment by far is when Steve uses his powers to move a parked car several meter’s away from its spot.
Trank explained to us how the scene was done: “we literally had like 40 guys pulling the car with a piece of rope and rotoscoped it” And it works, the effects look seamless and brilliant. Trank explained that he initially wanted that scene to have Steve lift the car several feet and drag it along several feet but cited the obvious problem with having a car flying in bright day light.
The next scene by far is one of the coolest which shows the trio learning their ability to fly- and yes expect some cool ariel combat action! We see them fail and eventually succeed but the sheer pleasure of seeing the camera fly through the clouds is something to behold. Speaking of cameras: Trank also offered a reasoning for the found footage element at a later point in the film. He explained that as Andrew gains more control of his powers, he begins to control the camera telekinetically.
From here we see a dark turn of events and the moral and ethical implications of using their powers comes into play. It starts of with an accident on the highway in which Andrew swipes a four-wheel drive off the road. He is then seen torturing a spider, ripping all of its legs out in one swift move. This is then followed by a robbery at a service station. Then comes a huge action set piece in which Andrew completely terrorizes downtown Seattle while his friends try to bring him under control.
Trank offered up some insight into how the team of visual effects artist recreated the city in a green screen studio. “We did a lot of post-production work. Those scenes that you saw in Seattle, that was all actually shot in a green screen studio in Cape Town”.
We didn’t really get a chance to see much combat between Andrew, Steve and Matt but an epic showdown is certain.
Chronicle’ is not your typical superhero film in the sense that it doesn’t feel superficial. There are cool fight and flight scenes and big explosions that make the film feel a lot more expansive – like what you would get on a big budget production.
With a shoestring (comparatively) budget of around $15 million, certain corners had to be cut; yet that doesn’t seem to retract from the core of what the story of trying to tell. Much of what was shown appears heavily grounded in reality and there were several cheers when Trank noted that his main source of inspiration came from Werner Herzog’s “Grizzly Man” and George Lucas’s “American Graffiti”, two vastly different films.
If the scenes described above are any indication of the level of depth that we can expect, then “Chronicle” is certain to be a massive hit come release.
Here’s the trailer: