Chronicle, Action Figures & The Super Power Dream

February 6, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Chronicle, Action Figures & The Super Power Dream


I don’t think I was much different than most boys who grew up during the golden age of action figures.  Obviously there are still plastic heroes amongst the youth of today but it’s not the same.  When I was a kid, the video game age was just beginning.  Remember when the original Super Mario Bros. changed everything?  It seems like to long ago now.  Today, you can stand in front of Xbox Kinect and control characters on the screen with gestures instead of a controller tethered by a power cord.  Raise your hand if you saw that coming.

Back then, I got my thrills from carefully staged action figure battles and the power of my imagination.  Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles faced off against battered He-Man hand-me-downs.  Food Fighters drove hot wheels cars and joined forces with G.I Joe to fight evil.  Transformers protected strange planets from the invasion of creepy mind controlling Muppet Babies.  (Happy meal toys no less.)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Action Figures

Note: Those are MY Ninja Turtles.  I’m 28 years old and I still know exactly where they are in my home.

These amazing battles played out outside the walls of Castle Greyskull and in the war torn lands surrounding The Technodrome.  The forces of good arrived in the Turtle’s van.  Sometimes, they would hitch a ride on Optimus Prime.  Many times, wars were waged in the treacherous waters of the bath tub. The possibilities were endless.

I wish I could remember all the stories I created back then.  I spent hours continuing the adventures I began the previous afternoon.  Each day the stories would become more elaborate.  I learned to tell stories in the trenches of my bedroom surround by my most beloved toys.

Having said that, I don’t mean to suggest that kid’s have no imaginations today.  They have so many amazing MORE sources of inspiration.  Action figures are but one of dozens of outlets for children to spin their epic tales.  When I was a kid, action figures were all I had and it was a time I’ll always cherish…  As a side note, toys are so much cooler today.  I can’t imagine what my brain would have come up with if I got my hands on them 20 years ago when I depended on my action figures for entertainment.


It was always inevitable that my favorite action figure at the time would become ‘me’.  It was always the most powerful hero of them all with super powers beyond imagination.  Flight, fire, ice, wind, telekinesis, speed, invisibility, INVINCIBILITY…  You name it.  Sometimes the character would be blessed with one power.  Other times, my hero of the day would have them all.

Even then I wished I could fly…  I still do.

Chronicle brought me back to those days.


Chronicle asks this question in a way that feels more realistic that many superhero movies that came before it.  Ordinary teenagers are given an incredible gift but they don’t immediately have to deal with an arch nemesis, villain or monster.  They have to deal with the reality of their own lives and how these powers will fundamentally change them.

I felt right at home watching Andrew, Steve and Matt learn about their abilities.  If you buy into the story, the first half of the film will have you smiling ear to ear.  Where is the first place you would travel if you could fly?

But that’s not what makes Chronicle such a memorable film.  It’s the the journey of central character.  What would happen if a boy who has felt powerless his entire life learns that he is more powerful than anyone?  Suddenly social awkwardness, an ailing mother, an abusive father and a lonely existence becomes the fuel that ignites the anger within.  It’s a unique twist on the super power tale that shows you the unbelievable perks as well as the tragic pitfalls that powers would bring.

When I was a kid, I don’t remember thinking about messing with people in department stores.  Super powers granted you immortality, fame, excitement or an escape.  But what would you have done if it actually happened?

Director Josh Trank does a remarkable job that, for me, succeeds on every level.  The second you start asking yourself what you would do, the movie is a winner because you’re invested.  Not only is the film a fantastic entry into the found footage genre but it’s a solid film that fits nicely in between District 9 and Super 8 on the shelf.  My only real complaint was the short running time but that was cancelled out by an awesome and worthwhile final act.

I loved it.  Go see Chronicle.

Chronicle, Action Figures & The Super Power Dream

Chronicle movie 2012 poster

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