When the first trailer for a mysterious little film called "Chronicle" made its debut via Youtube and the rest of the worldwide web; I was left dazed and confused upon viewing it. This appeared to be a film of ambition; in the sense that it was attempting to blend elements of both a frat comedy and a superhero origin story filled to the top with tropes and clichés. Better yet, it was done in found-footage style; and I've grown tired - ever so tired - of the style. So it was arriving at a genuinely bad time in cinematic history. No matter, the thing was going to get a release whether I liked it or not, so I just went with it, and frankly, I was not expecting much. Well, now I've seen it; and perhaps I should have expected more. Such a thought is still circulating through my puny mind.
Comic book and classic superhero fans alike will probably get a kick out of this one. "Chronicle" concerns a trio of high school kids who develop otherworldly superpowers after coming in close-direct contact with some out-of-this-world rock. They are Andrew (Dane DeHaan), Steve (Michael B. Jordan), and Matt (Alex Russell). All three of them discover the rock - which comes in the form of a shiny, colorful crystal - when they ditch a party and find new potential interest in a small - but deep - hole planted somewhere in the ground, in the middle of the nearby woods. The rock is contained at the end of the hole; and once they've touched it, not one of these three young men will ever be the same again.
All three have developed telekinetic powers. They can move objects and even people with their minds; effortlessly and subtly. At first, they embrace their new-found powers to the fullest, soon discovering that they can also fly. But of course, with great power comes great responsibility; and we all know how "responsible" the mass majority of students in High School are. These kids are no different; but at the same time, they are far most interesting to watch than most kids of that certain age might have been.
This is because the screenwriter, Max Landis, understands that to care about a superhero or any character at all; you must develop them with precision and care. This is precisely what he does, especially with Andrew; who gives the film some strong emotional gravity in moments, as we see the conditions he is struggling to cope with. His mother is bed-ridden and very close to her death; and his father is an abusive drunk. The found-footage aspect comes in when he purchases a 500-dollar video camera to escape his reality and express himself in his own way; and in a sense, this is not only a film about normal people gaining superpowers, but also one about the connection between people and their technology.
The other characters are well-developed as well, although Andrew is clearly the focus of the story. "Chronicle" takes its time building up to bigger and better things; giving us time to get acquainted with these people and develop some good reasons why we should care about them. The film does indeed borrow a lot from past superhero movies - or perhaps just superhero stories in general - but it never feels gimmicky. First-time director Josh Trank is out to prove that he's a filmmaker worth watching; and judging by this one film, that he is. It's an impressive debut in which the "cool" factor does not get in the way of the narrative; with is satisfactory, to say the least. For some audiences, the special effects and unique concept will most likely get in the way of the shockingly solid dosage of emotional depth that the film has to offer; but if you've got an eye for such things, then you'll be the first to notice that "Chronicle" is anything but run-of-the-mill.
I liked the film; and I was surprised at how much I did. Unlike a lot of superhero origin stories before it, this film is unique and fresh with style, wit, and intensity; the action is in-your-face insane at moments, the moments of humor and emotion feel honest (even if the latter never quite hit close to home with me), and there's plenty of talent in display from both ends of the camera. I definitely hope to see more from this director and these actors, they display plenty of potential here, and if anything, "Chronicle" certainly proves that there's a first time for everything. It's admirable and entertaining, and from time-to-time ingenious, because it creates heroes and villains with motives, reasons, histories, characteristics; personalities. We root for both teams; this is one superhero movie that exists entirely in the real world, where good and bad is practically non-existent. Because in my experience, there can be no evil if there is the presence of reason; and such a thing serves as the central drive for the film's narrative. And so you see; we're not much unlike the kids playing football above the clouds.
The POV documentary style cinematography and first person perspective have made certain sleeper hits such as “Paranormal Activity” and “The Blair Witch Project”. Their lack of a huge budget made the films different and it made them carry with them a certain charm that attracted viewers. Other films followed suit and they mostly had one thing in common: they were all mostly part of the horror genre. Well, seems like writers/directors Josh Trank and Max Landis is stepped outside … more
We've all heard this story before. A teenager (or a couple) stumbles upon something extraordinary and they get powers. Before the idea has often been that they'll use these powers to start fighting crime, or perhaps helping the cops... or getting laid. Or maybe all of the above. Either way, Chronicle is much more about the mystery and curiosity than it is about justice and perserverence. It's not a super hero movie and I'm pretty sure no … more
Star Rating: Chronicle makes a compelling case for what would happen if a group of teenage boys were to suddenly attain superhuman powers. They would not stare at each other in awe, as if they had just been touched by the hand of God. They would have fun with it, not just at their expense, but also at the expense of others. Initially, the boys in this film behave like the cast of Jackass, using their powers to pull dangerous stunts strictly for cheap thrills … more
If you could have a superpower, what would it be? That's a popular icebreaker question and you can tell a lot about a person by how they answer it. Though there are numerous answers, flight and x-ray vision are two that often come up. Often those who answer "flight" are those who are extremely altruistic while those that answer "x-ray vision" are usually very self-centered and conceited. The possibility of humans, particularly teenagers, gaining such abilities is the plot … more
By Joan Alperin Schwartz Every so often a film surprises me...Sometimes in a good way...Sometimes in a not so good way. Walking into the screening of 'Chronicle' directed by Josh Trank, I was expecting to see a movie that I've seen way too many times...teenagers get superpowers and fight evil doers. Wow, was I happily surprised...Yes...teenagers do … more
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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Opens tomorrow, February 3, 2012 | Runtime:1 hr. 24 min.
Some Language, Sexual Content, Intense Action and Violence, Teen Drinking and Thematic Material
Andrew (Dane DeHaan) is a socially awkward, introverted teen whose main form of escape and expression is a video camera. But things begin to change when Andrew, his cousin Matt (Alex Russell) and popular classmate Steve (Michael B. Jordan) discover a mysterious substance that leave them with incredible powers. As their abilities become more powerful, the teens' lives spin out of control when their darker sides begin to emerge. Andrew's camera captures the unfolding events.