Tag Archives: Chronicle

Top 10 Films of 2012

Ah, it’s that time again where we count down the films that truly blew me away that were released during 2012. Now before I count down these movies, I must mention that I didn’t see every film that was released this year. As I live in Australia, really amazing films still haven’t been released this year, including Life of Pi and Django Unchained. Also, this is MY pick. It’s my opinion. If your list is not the same as mine, just remember that it doesn’t fucking matter. That’s your opinion, and that’s perfectly fine. So please, don’t throw a hissy fit in the comments if you find out that The Avengers didn’t end up on this list… Yep, that’s right. The Avengers was disappointing to me. Just learn to accept it.

Now with that out of the way, let’s get started on this list with number 10.


The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower was a sensational drama, and one that I connected with from the get-go. Audiences who’ve experienced bullying and rejection or any kind of terrible experience during high school should be able to relate to this film. As a victim of bullying in high school, I could absolutely relate and understand the characters depicted in the film, and the performances were all top notch. Logan Lerman was sensational, and Ezra Miller stole every one of his scenes. Emma Watson also delivered a heart-breaking performance. This is a definite must see.



Chronicle (2012)

Chronicle is probably the best found-footage film I’ve seen since Cloverfield. It’s a completely fresh take on the genre, and what’s great is it’s not a horror film. This is a film about superpowers, and like The Perks of Being a Wallflower, deals with the hardship teenagers face including bullying and abuse. The camera itself becomes a plot device, which I absolutely love – it gives the character a reason to be constantly recording. The acting is great, and the climax… simply amazing.



Lawless (2012)

Lawless is a brilliantly made period film. While most audiences will expect a big action film with a lot of shootouts, you really don’t get that. Still, that doesn’t make it any less thrilling to watch. Performances are all superb, particularly those of Tom Hardy and Guy Pearce, and the film is shot beautifully as well. It looks gorgeous. Chris Kennedy’s production design must also be mentioned as it truly takes you back to the time. This is a film you have to check out, particularly if you’re a history buff.



Argo (2012)

Argo is proof that Ben Affleck is one of Hollywood’s best directors working today. I mean, seriously, all his first three movies have been critically acclaimed. I’ve loved every film he’s made so far, including this of course. Affleck’s direction is great, and he knows how to get good performances from his actors. With a supporting cast including Bryan Cranston and John Goodman, there’s so much talent on screen. The final sequence of the film is absolutely nail-biting, and it shows you get tension and excitement in a film without using any guns or explosions.


End of Watch

End of Watch (2012)

End of Watch is a superb buddy cop movie. I’m a huge sucker for these films, and End of Watch presented a truly authentic and gritty to the genre. While there is a lot of humour that’s key to the buddy cop genre, the film is mainly more focused on the relationship between its central characters and the everyday dangers cops face. It’s essentially a look into the lives of those who protect our streets, with a touch of found footage. This aspect of the film is mainly used as a plot device, and while it doesn’t add a great deal to the film, it’s used well nonetheless. The two leads both share an amazing amount of chemistry, and the climax of the film is thrilling to watch.



Prometheus (2012)

This is a film with A LOT of haters. I personally loved the hell out of Prometheus when I saw it at IMAX. While the 3D was admittedly ordinary, the film was a brilliantly dark and mature sci-fi epic. It’s refreshing to finally see a more adult sci-fi film. This has shades of horror that truly resonate throughout the film, and there are truly memorable moments that must be seen. The special effects are superb, and the film is shot beautifully by one of my personal favourite cinematographers Dariusz Wolski. Ridley Scott is truly at home with the sci-fi genre, and he knows what he’s doing when working with this genre. Sure, there are plenty of unanswered questions that you can nitpick about, but there’s no denying this is a stunning film. Bring on a sequel, please.


21 Jump Street

21 Jump Street (2012)

Everyone who knows me well will tell you that I LOVED the hell out of this film, as I constantly kept talking about it and reciting quotes from it. Yes, I loved 21 Jump Street. As an aspiring filmmaker, this is a prime example of the films that I’d love to make one day. Like I said earlier, I’m a sucker for buddy cop films. 21 Jump Street is a less serious take on the work of cops compared to End of Watch, but it doesn’t try to be gritty in any way. This is simply a good time at  the cinema, and the humour is gut-bustingly hilarious. Michael Bacall is shaping up to be one of my favourite screenwriters working in Hollywood, and Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum work tremendously well together. I can’t imagine anyone not liking this – it’s definitely one of my favourite comedies of all time.



Skyfall (2012)

Skyfall is one of the best Bond films ever made. While it may not be as good as Casino Royale, it came pretty close. Sam Mendes shows that he was a perfect choice for the film, as he clearly knows what he’s doing with the character – something that was terribly missed with the last Bond film, Quantum of Solace. Craig proves again he is without a doubt the best James Bond in years, and Javier Bardem is a truly sinister villain. Shot gorgeously by Roger Deakins, Skyfall is one of the most visually impressive films of 2012, and every action sequence is nothing short of amazing.


The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

The first installment of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy is a ridiculously enjoyable fantasy adventure film. As a fanboy of the original The Lord of the Rings trilogy, An Unexpected Journey was a godsend – it’s truly pleasing that Jackson was chosen to helm this after Guillermo del Toro left the project in 2010. While it may not be as good as LOTR, it’s still a brilliant fantasy film. In all honesty, it would be silly to expect this to be on the same level as LOTR – that trilogy was dark and gritty, while The Hobbit is essentially completely different in tone. It’s mainly aimed at families much like the book was. There are moments in the film where I teared up, and the visuals are still sensational. Even if you haven’t seen any of the LOTR films, An Unexpected Journey is worth your money.


The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

You probably could’ve predicted this would be the winner. The Dark Knight Rises is definitely, in my opinion, the best film of the year. Christopher Nolan’s conclusion to his trilogy is a brilliant way to end the franchise. Though many say that The Dark Knight Rises is in no way better than its predecessor, I disagree, and I do think that this is the best of Nolan’s trilogy. Shot on IMAX cameras, the film is best experienced in an IMAX theater, and the action sequences do look extraordinary in that format. Hans Zimmer’s score is sensational, and all the performances are great. A personal favourite of mine was Anne Hathway as Selina Kyle, who was both ridiculously hot and badass in the role. The Dark Knight Rises is definitely a fanboy’s godsend. I personally believe this is the comic book movie of the year. While many believe The Avengers tops this, I have to disagree. The Avengers didn’t have the same effect on me that The Dark Knight Rises did. I even cried in it – it’s got emotion behind it, something I thought was sorely missing in The Avengers. But, that’s my own opinion. If you disagree with my list, please don’t throw a fit and rage in comments section. Go ahead and make your own list. On this list, The Dark Knight Rises is the film of 2012.

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A new step in the ‘found-footage’ sub-genre.

https://i2.wp.com/i2.listal.com/image/3152841/140full.jpg“Yes, it was the black guy this time.”

The ‘found-footage’ sub-genre was popularised when The Blair Witch Project was released way back in 1999. There have been so many found-footage films in the horror genre that they’re actually starting to get boring. The thing that’s attractive about this sub-genre to many studios is that they cost little to make, yet rake in a lot of profit. One of the latest found-footage films to move into a new genre is Josh Trank’s Chronicle. This is sort of like a ‘super hero/villain origin story’, and it works really well. With a budget of $15 Million, it’s really surprising how well the visual effects fall in place with the story telling. Trank, who was 27 when he made Chronicle, impresses so much with his directorial debut, and the film does things that no other found-footage movie has done before, particularly with the camera.

Andrew (Dane DeHaan) is a troubled but creative teen who lives with his sick mother (Bo Petersen) and abusive father (Michael Kelly). He is socially awkward and is often bullied at his high school. To record the hardships he goes through, he buys a handheld camera. When he goes to a party of one of the students at his school, he makes a discovery with his cousin Matt (Alex Russell) and class-mate Steve (Michael B. Jordan), that leads them all to acquire powerful telekinetic abilities. Their new found powers bring them closer together as friends, as they get into all kinds of mischief and develop their abilities. However, their intentions, particularly those of Andrew, turn for a sinister angle.

I’ll admit, it is hard to write a found-footage script (I’ve had a try of it). However Trank and writer Max Landis (the son of horror filmmaker John Landis) have come up with a story that transitions quite well into a screenplay. Personally, I found myself relating a lot to the character of Andrew. I’ll be frank; I wasn’t the most popular kid in high school and I did cop a fair bit of bullying, so I could relate to the pain he was going through. The characters here are terrific in that way – since they’re teenagers, many young audiences (probably the target audience for the film) will definitely respond to them. The humour has that hip, teen style to it, and it surprised how funny the film was. It’s largely thanks to the character of Steve, who may be seen as a cliché comic relief black guy, but he was likeable character. Also adding to the humour is the way the three friends decide to use their powers, mainly in the fun and games direction (we’ll get to the darker side later). They play football while flying and play tricks on people with their telekinesis. The mischievous tone was something I responded well to, and the film’s tagline, Boys will be Boys, is a perfect description of this.

Landis’ script takes time to develop the characters over the course of the film. Andrew becomes more threatening as he learns to use his powers, Matt learns to be a good person, and Steve starts actually spending time with Andrew (he never did before as he was popular student). These characters are likeable, and Landis does a good job of making the audience care about these friends. But the dark side of things plays into the whole teen angle beautifully. With Andrew living such an unfortunate life, there’s something understandable about his development to a darker personality. As teenagers, we are naive and don’t think things through. Hell, if I got powers seen in this film, I’d do all kinds of things I’d regret without thinking it through. I liked this theme the movie worked itself around of, and it allows the audience to be more invested with these characters. When Andrew starts using his powers in a negative way, that’s when the film takes a darker tone. There’s hardly any humour in the final act, but tonal shift wasn’t abrupt and had been set-up over time throughout the course of the film.

In most found-footage films, the acting is usually atrocious (first-time actors are often hired). However, in Chronicle, the acting is actually really fine. It’s definitely surprising as most of these actors haven’t been in a lot of roles. As Andrew, Dane DeHaan is excellent – he channels both the light and dark side of his character perfectly. His transformation from vulnerable teenager to badass super villain is fantastic. Meanwhile, Alex Russell brought a commendable performance as Matt, but Michael B. Jordan was terrific, having heaps of fun with his role which definitely translated into the audience. Michael Kelly (Dawn of the Dead, Changeling) is pretty much the only well-known actor cast in this, and as Andrew’s alcoholic father, he’s fantastic.

Chronicle has a truly unique style as opposed to most found-footage films. Instead of just one camera, the film cuts between different cameras, depending on the scene. For example, at the opening party scene, the film switches from Andrew’s camera to another one owned by Matt’s love interest, Casey (Ashley Hinshaw). Towards the climax though, this style has its ups and downs. There are moments where they’ll use surveillance cameras and other authoritative formats. However, there comes to a point where it gets a bit unconvincing, as the cameras will still capture what the characters are saying (also, Andrew’s camera is not in use during the conclusion). Speaking of the conclusion… it’s pretty awesome. It’s practically a big battle between two superhuman beings shot in a found-footage style – and it works! You can actually tell what’s going on, and it’s just riveting stuff. The cinematography throughout the film is quite creative, and allows Trank to move out of the typical found-footage look. As the lead characters improve on their powers, they begin to levitate the camera and move it in totally new directions. This allows action sequences to be shot really well, as the hero doesn’t even need to be grasping the recorder. The visual effects may not be top-notch, but this isn’t a big budget film. At the end of the day, the effects were fine – they didn’t bother me, and they were well-integrated with the action sequences.

I really do hope that this evolves into a franchise, because there’s so much potential here. It finally proves that the found-footage sub-genre isn’t a total gimmick after all. As a huge fan of superhero movies, it was refreshing to see one that wasn’t based on a comic book. Better yet, it was done in a style I never thought was possible for superheroes. While it’s shot in a handheld style, the film has a graceful look, and it delivers on everything you’d want a superhero movie – a hero, a villain, action sequences, sci-fi elements. It’s all here. Like I said, this is pretty much a superhero/supervillain origin story, and if we get more that are as good as this from studios like Marvel and DC, I’m gonna be a happy man.


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