Director Josh Trank’s Chronicle sets out to challenge your perceptions of what exactly constitutes a superhero movie just as much as it sets out to redefine the “found footage” genre (or conceit, as some would say). While it’s not entirely successful at the latter, it pulls off the former quite well. My full review hit later this week and, despite some minor problems I had with the movie, I think it’s well worth checking out.
Before I saw the film (but after I saw about 30 minutes of footage) I had the chance to hop on the phone with Michael B. Jordan, a super charismatic actor who plays the super charismatic Steve Montgomery in the movie. Fans of “Friday Night Lights” (and Red Tails) will no doubt be familiar with the actor.
In Chronicle, “Three high school who friends gain superpowers after making an incredible discovery. Soon, though, they find their lives spinning out of control and their bond tested as they embrace their darker sides.” The PG-13 found footage dark superhero flick opens in theaters February 3.
Hit the jump to check out the interview! One of the issues with found footage movies is that you’re dealing with characters who are filming themselves which can lead to problems with motivation. “Why are they filming this?” How did you work to get around that?
“I think it has a lot to do with the ways the characters are presented in the movie. It’s not your typical ‘hey guys, I randomly have this camera and I’m going to film this monster attacking New York’, or something. And it’s all shaky and the documentary style becomes a distraction. It’s not a distraction in this film. One, because we have telekinetic powers and throughout the film we learn how to telekinetically hold the camera. I don’t want to give too much away, but the way it’s shot we have some really cool angles. And it gives you that 3rd person, fly on the wall perspective. You feel like you’re peeking into these kids’ lives. You’re not just watching found footage. You’re watching the story of their lives unfold through a peephole. And I think that’s really cool. We haven’t really seen that done before and it’s a brand new outlook. It’s a brand new point of view. It sweeps away the audience.”
What was your reaction to the script when you first read it?
“It was one of the first scripts that I didn’t want to put down. I picked it up on page one and I read it straight through. It was like ‘wow, that was an incredible story. I want to be a a part of this. I don’t care what character.’ There were a few that jumped out at me, but I knew I had to be a part of it one way or another. Max Landis did a really good job with creating these characters. And Josh Trank too because they collaborated on the story, but you care about these characters throughout the movie. Sometimes in a found footage movie you don’t really care about it because you’re just waiting to see what happens next. These days you don’t have a delivery on a superhero film without it being over the top cheesy or just unbelievable. So we’re dealing with a totally new story and we took advantage of that. We wanted to be as creative and unique as possible.”
There’s a lot you can do with telekinesis, apparently. In the clips I saw there’s a lot of footage of you guys trying out different abilities. In real life, what would be your favorite aspect of that.
“Oh man, it would probably be flying. Hands down. Telekinesis is the ability to vibrate things with your mind, which can affect pretty much anything. Once you realize that the only limit is your imagination. I think flying would be the power I would use the most. You could just get up and go and never be late to another meeting. Never be late to another class. You could travel around the world for free. All of those things I would definitely do if I had those powers.”
Was there a lot of stunt training that you had to do for this movie?
“Yes. I actually got in the best shape of my life in South Africa, where we shot this film. We had this trainer named Gina. Pretty girl, cute. Nice. She was an animal, okay? She shattered my ego with that pilates class. And I think I’m physically fit. I can bench press a little bit, do some pushups, pull-ups. I can do all that stuff easy, no problem. Pilates humbled me very quickly.”
You can lift all the weight in the world, yoga and pilates are a different ballgame.
“It was next level man. My core was so sore. It was a pain for me to get out of bed in the morning because of it. But it’s a different type of strength. You see all these cute girls balancing and doing weird positions and you’re like, ‘f*ck, I’m strong. I’ll be able to do that.’ But it’s not happening man. We had to do high wire training and stuff with harnesses because when it comes to the flying, the green screen and whatnot, we did about 3 weeks of training. Preparation was very important in this movie because there aren’t as many cuts. Sometimes a shot goes on for 2 minutes. So prep was definitely very important.”
You shot South Africa for Seattle. When you heard they were doing that were you concerned they wouldn’t be able to pull it off?
“I wasn’t too skeptical about it. Once we landed in South Africa, it was definitely Africa. But I’d see trees that could pull off Seattle. Occasionally you’d be driving and see a palm tree with the pine trees, but nothing we couldn’t work around.”
It seems like you career is really opening up. What would be your dream role?
“I’d like to play a villain as layered as Heath Ledger’s joker. Not that exact character, but someone whose behavior is justified and makes sense in their own mind. That would be a dream role for me.”