Script Review: Chronicle 2: Martyr

Nearly 4 years ago today, Fox studios released a film that would sweep the geek community surprisingly by storm and help launch the careers of two of Hollywood’s most sought after young male leads (Those being Michael B Jordan and Dane Dehan). The movie was Chronicle, a underground studio film that was released to critical acclaim from both critics and audiences, and help launch to mainstream prominence the careers of director Josh Trank and screenwriter Max Landis.

The film followed the misadventures of three teenage boys from all different sides of the spectrum, Andrew, Mike and Steve all meet at a party and go off on their own and discover a crystal cave that gives them telekinesis, what follows is a harrowing tale about friendship, responsibility and morality.

Soon after the film was released, it made a shit ton of money and got the geek community buzzing Fox unsurprisingly began movement on a sequel, tapping screenwriter Max Landis to continue his work and the story he helped create with Josh Trank (and the uncredited Jeremy Slater). After turning his draft mid September, Fox’s reception was lukewarm at best and passed on Landis’s script. Since then the films sequel hasn’t had much momentum new screenwriters have come and gone and over the years the sequels production has since subsided.

Fortunately I was able to get my hands on a alleged leak copy of the sequel that Landis penned. Landis himself stated several times that his version of the sequel would turn a lot of people off, as it was much darker than what people might have expected, and after reading it I kinda agree.

Picking up nearly a few months after Chronicle we find that Matt has gone public about his involvement with the events of the first film and is joining forces with a Government agency dedicated just to him. Matt has been traveling around the world saving people and secretly trying to figure out more information on the origin of his powers. Everything seems to be going fine for Matt, the public likes him, the agency headed by a Captain Atom type (only comic book geeks would get the reference) Agent named Hanson, seems to be onside although somewhat overprotective in that regard.

Enter Jack and Miranda…this couple is well, they’re– I don’t even wanna say fucked up…well Miranda is but more on that later. Jack is pissed, and he’s grieving in a very extreme way, see Jack lost his brother during the fight between Matt and Andrew and blames the tragic and untimely loss of his brother entirely on Matt, (understandably?). So Jack and his girlfriend Miranda (well actually it’s more like just Miranda) build a giant Dark Knight Batman like outfit to combat Matt and take him down, more aptly kill him.

It isn’t long before their paths cross with one another during a public press conference, in which Matt reveals himself. A fight ensues and it sparks what unfolds the plot of Chronicle 2: Martyr.

There is, not surprisingly, a lot to like about this script and they way Landis approached the sequel, jumping back between Matt and the couples P.O.V. was a very neat choice and helped keep the story from becoming stagnate by just focusing on one character. The story as it unfolds while  a bit predictable is still entertaining in the since that it’s really intriguing to watch a classic comic book scenario unfold in a alleged real space, and while Landis would rather not Chronicle and I’m guessing the sequel be pulled into the “Super hero” category, while reading the script one can’t help but draw the similarities between the two worlds.

The character of Matt himself is sort of like a real world Superman, traveling the world saving people, dealing with the government watching over him and a pseudo Luthor type in Jack who is fixated on bringing him down, viewing him as a threat to humanity (not unlike the plot of the recent Batman v Superman movie). Since the events of the first film, in this script Matt has grown considerably, though his naivety towards how he approaches his antics, pointed about multiple times by Hanson, is somewhat misguided and in the long term will stifle his growth as a “hero”.

The characters of Jack and Miranda is where the script succeeds and fails the most. The character of Jack I could’ve really done without as I didn’t really find him all that interesting and his involvement is very much a clever spin on the classic women in refrigerator plot device that used to plague most comic book heroes in the 90s.  The character of Miranda however is a more complex situation, I dig the choices Landis took with the character and after reading a couple of his other works, it’s clear that Landis loves his vulnerable, trainwreck female heroines.

My problem is mostly everything that happens to Miranda “post Jack” I found her character a hindrance, and while interesting a little weird. Maybe it’s because she latched onto Jack so much both psychically and emotionally is what bothered me or the revelation about her mental state that while was an understandable choice from a writers standpoint, I felt a little tacked on in terms of explaining why the character was they way she was. Though her character leads the plot into some really cool fight scenes.

A lot of the action beats that involved the mech suit are really cool, interestingly written and would no doubt have been creatively executed. The best parts of the script for me were the small character bits, whenever Matt goes on the roof of the agency for some peace of mind, there’s a nice little monologue that Miranda gives towards the end of the script that is chilling.

Some of the negatives are there are a couple of characters I didn’t find all that necessary like Stephanie, or Aiello both of which I found hollow, and poorly written to some extent. Stephanie being the sort of Pepper Potts, the kinda moral compass that encourages Matt to push forward, though to be honest I’ve never really been a fan of those kinds of characters, within comic book lore. There is what I believed to be somewhat of a romance between her and Matt that I could give two shits about.

As a whole though it’s understandable why Fox passed on this script and the version of the sequel it would’ve brought, though the bare bones of the story itself would make for a great standalone comic, that’d probably be the closest we’d get to seeing this story unfold. There is a lot more to like about the script than not, the world building is excellent, I love the growth of Matt and is interplay within the world and how he deals with situations.

I love the idea behind Miranda as a sort of Otto Octavious but is more severely mentally and emotionally disturbed, even I felt mixed out how she plays out in the script. There is a cool cameo I believe by Andrew’s father.

 

Overall Grade: B+

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