Length: 84 minutes
Release Date: February 03, 2012
Directed by: Josh Trank
Genre: Drama / Sci-fi / Thriller
A strange yet familiar world seen through the perspective of a camcorder, this movie displays an interesting approach to how different people would react to suddenly gaining powers they do not understand. Those who enjoy the idea of superpowers manifesting in normal people will enjoy this movie , but a newcomer to the genre might notice flaws in the camera work and find the characters involved too jarring.
The main protagonist Andrew Detmer’s situation is perhaps the one that can be sympathized with the most. Andrew is a teenager with a dying mother and abusive father who is trying to find an escape in documenting his own life. His awkward behavior and confidence issues shine through.
The movie really picks up when his cousin drags him to a party to meet more people. This sets up the chain of events that make up the rest of the movie as Andrew and two others find a mysterious object that gives them superpowers. Unfortunately, this part of the movie is never really explained and may leave audiences scratching their heads. Audiences never learn why that strange crystal formation is there, what it means or whether it is natural or an alien force. Thankfully, as the perspective of the movie is that of a group of teenagers, the characters never really need to examine it that closely. However, later on it is shown that there is no evidence of what happened to them at all, as if it had been covered up. If viewers come into this film looking for a subtle intrigue or strange, dark forces, they will be disappointed. The movie focuses entirely on the three teens, even when this hinting is made, leaving a plot thread untouched.
The connections between the three characters and the different ways they handle their abilities set up a good character dynamic. Andrew, a dark and troubled youth, has seemingly far more motivation than most to get better at controlling his powers, but he picks up a lot of dangerous ideas about what they are and how he should use them, leading to tragic mistakes. His cousin Matt displays a more average approach. Finally, Steve sees his powers as an opportunity to do good. A lot of tension exists between the three as Andrew’s behavior begins to darken and he starts to hurt people.
This is, as a whole, the shining jewel of the movie. Andrew’s struggle isn’t all evil and madness, as he tries to get money for his mother’s cancer treatments using his powers to rob people. The situation ends in tragedy, as mentioned before, and he only makes it worse. There is a moment, though, when his father twists the knife in a way that really doesn’t seem natural, triggering the final moments of the movie.
Steve’s death serves as a vehicle to motivate Matt to stop Andrew, creating a kind of hero-villain dynamic between the two of them that fans of superhero stories will catch. Their conflict ends very abruptly, however, and audiences don’t really learn what happens to Matt or learn the potentially worldwide consequences of the events that took place when they fought.
Creative use of cinematography is found in the telekinetic camera work that Andrew does for himself as he develops his powers during the course of the movie. This allows for dramatic shots and somehow manages to keep a general feel that Andrew has a camcorder and not just a special effects camera. However, there are moments in the movie that are obviously not well-built around this effect, and sometimes it can make a person dizzy looking at the events from the angles the camcorder uses.
The superpowers themselves are just the standard mix of flight, telekinesis and a bit of strange mental connection between the three teens. Andrew displays the most creativity for using them, but the movie does examine how the powers didn’t make them invincible when Andrew gets caught unaware and is burned. There is a certain fragility that reminds people that this is not a movie about superheroes but a movie about a bunch of kids who get too much power and are burned by it.
In essence, fans of comic books and superheroes are likely to enjoy this movie. However, if for audiences who aren’t really into this kind of genre, this movie is probably better seen as a thriller or character drama with a superpowered kick. The use of a floating camcorder can be nauseating at times, but it is offset by the struggle of Andrew and the consequences of his actions effecting his friends and his life. It’s a good examination of how young people would react when given that much power and how it may hurt them.
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