24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Chronicle

'Chronicle's' Josh Trank looks to spit some Venom

March 6, 2012 |  4:45 pm


EXCLUSIVE: With Sony’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” looking to kick-start a Spidey resurgence this summer, the studio is taking a crack at another character associated with the superhero: Venom.

The studio is negotiating with Josh Trank, the hot director of this winter’s found-footage hit "Chronicle," to take the reins of the Spidey spin-off, said a person familiar with the project who was not authorized to talk about it publicly. Sony was not immediately available for comment.

The film would center on the gooey villain who was a mainstay of the Marvel comics and was a nemesis, incarnated by Topher Grace, in the third “Spider-Man” picture in 2007. (The character attaches himself to a human host and becomes as powerful as the web-slinging superhero.)

A Venom film has been long-gestating at the studio, dating back at least to 2008 and preceding plans for this summer's Marc Webb-Andrew Garfield take on the character. Gary Ross negotiated to direct a Venom film back in 2009 but moved on to other projects, including the upcoming “Hunger Games.”

Jacob Estes (“The Details”) wrote a draft of a “Venom” script several years ago, but producers are seeking a new writer, said the source. (The Ross version was to craft Venom as less a villain than an antihero.) The film also would be seeking a new actor; Grace is not expected to reprise the role.

With "Venom," the 27-year-old Trank would not only return to superhero territory but would also bring a flair for shoe-leather storytelling that resonates with audiences: Despite an absence of stars as well as a modest budget, “Chronicle” has grossed more than $60 million since coming out last month.


Chronicle, Betsy Sharkey's pick of the week

Box Office: Super Bowl no match for 'Chronicle' [video]

'Chronicle,' like Paranormal Activity but with superpowers

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Venom. Credit: Marvel Comics

'Chronicle': Betsy Sharkey's film pick of the week

February 8, 2012 |  6:09 pm


For the half of you who opted for the Daniel Radcliffe scary movie “The Woman in Black” last weekend, please put the low-tech but highly entertaining “Chronicle” on your to-do list (they pretty much split the box office).

It's about three teens who fall into a hole and come out with superpowers. But, the film wonders, will they use them for good or evil? That might sound like something you've seen before, but you haven't, or at least not as director Josh Trank and screenwriter Max Landis envision it — as a very cool, very raw video diary.

It's the found-footage idea put through a blender. The three teenagers are a good crew, anchored by talented Dane DeHaan playing the resident nerd.

Since the other guys were already high-school cool, he's the one with issues to sort out. The result is a high-flying ride, and not just because the teens can levitate. If nothing else it will leave you wondering what filmmakers and cast alike are going to do next.


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Exceptional drama in 'Coriolanus,' 'We Need to Talk About Kevin'

-– Betsy Sharkey

Box Office: Super Bowl no match for 'Chronicle' [Video]

February 6, 2012 | 12:29 pm

Chronicle was the No 1 fim at the box office this weekend
It was expected to be a slow weekend at the box office, as millions of Americans camped out in front of their television sets to watch the Super Bowl.

But three new movies fared well at the multiplex despite the big game. "Chronicle," a found-footage teen adventure about three young boys with superpowers, was the weekend winner with a studio-estimated $22 million in ticket sales. Daniel Radcliffe's first post-"Harry Potter" film, "The Woman in Black," came in just behind with $21 million. The inspirational environmental drama "Big Miracle," starring John Krasinski and Drew Barrymore, did less impressive business, grossing only $8.5 million.

So how did "Chronicle" manage to lure young males into theaters on Super Bowl weekend? And what does Radcliffe's robust debut say about his future as a leading man? Check out this week's box office video report for more details.


Universal looks for a 'Big Miracle'

'Chronicle' scores big on Super Bowl weekend

Daniel Radcliffe: My days as ‘messy drunk’ were less than magical

-- Amy Kaufman


Photo: Alex Russell stars in "Chronicle." Credit: 20th Century Fox

'Chronicle': Teen superhero flick is time well spent, critics say

February 3, 2012 |  3:01 pm


Ever since the 1999 indie hit "The Blair Witch Project," found-footage-style films — which purport to document extraordinary events on home video — have been a popular subgenre, particularly in the realm of horror and monster movies. Recent examples include the "Paranormal Activity" series, "Cloverfield" and "The Devil Inside." The new movie "Chronicle" tweaks the formula with a superhero slant and some teen angst, as three high-school dudes record themselves gaining telekinetic powers and trying to keep them in check. The result is earning favorable reviews.

The Times' Betsy Sharkey finds "Chronicle" to be a fresh take on an established format. She writes, "While ['Chronicle'] might sound like just a YouTube/Facebook variation on the old coming of age story, it plays far fresher than that with filmmakers proving innovative in using the found-footage idea that made 'The Blair Witch Project' such a sensation." Sharkey commends "the keen eye of cinematographer Matthew Jensen" and says "the three teens are a well blended crew, anchored by [Dane] DeHaan, who strip mines the trajectory of teen repression, resentment and rage with a frenetic energy." Sharkey does say the film "is still rough around the edges and a little off the rails by the end," but overall it fares well.

New York Times critic Manohla Dargis calls "Chronicle" "a slick, modestly scaled science-fiction fairy tale with major box-office aspirations." Like Sharkey, Dargis applauds DeHaan, "whose vulnerability and physical awkwardness here can evoke the young Leonardo DiCaprio in 'What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,' and who "pulls you uneasily in." Dargis also compliments director Josh Trank's savvy visual treatment, noting, for example, that the film receives an effective image upgrade when DeHaan's character replaces his video camera with a more expensive model. In addition, the character's telekinetic use of his camera (handheld with no hands, you might say) leads to some imaginative cinematography.

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Amy Biancolli writes that "this brisk, brusque, disturbing little flick also deconstructs the conventional superhero narrative and reassembles it as a canny discourse on impulse control and the troubled teen psyche." What begins as "a goofy and infectious thrill" eventually "veers to the dark side," Biancolli says. Along with well drawn characters and convincing special effects, "Trank tells his tale with an emotional and visual crispness that gives the superhero genre its best crack at naturalism so far."

USA Today's Claudia Puig says the film "comes together surprisingly well under the inventive direction of Josh Trank and the capable storytelling of Max Landis, son of filmmaker Jon Landis." While Trank's direction keeps most of the film feeling grounded in reality, Puig writes, the finale, "which features spectacle in the form of major destruction around the streets of Seattle, grows almost numbing in its Godzilla-like extremes."

Among those less impressed by the film is Time's Richard Corliss, who deems "Chronicle" "simultaneously diverting and annoying." Corliss also says the found-footage approach, which requires that a character bring a camera everywhere, renders the film "sillier than it needs to be at times." 

And the New York Post's Kyle Smith offers this quip: "Attempting to blend a cinematic smoothie out of 'The Blair Witch Project' and 'Superman,' the movie instead feels more like what would happen if 'Jackass' suddenly started thinking it was about the nature of evil, with Johnny Knoxville mouthing quotations from Schopenhauer and Jung."

Now that would really be something. Who knows — maybe they're saving Knoxville for "Chronicle 2."


'Chronicle' director: Our film isn’t about good vs. evil

'Chronicle': Viral stunt takes flight in Manhattan [Video]

'Chronicle': Like 'Paranormal Activity,' but with superpowers?

— Oliver Gettell

Photo: Dane DeHaan in "Chronicle." Credit: Alan Markfield / Fox


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