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 that box with a larger budget and has crafted a story about teen behavior and how power corrupts absolutely in the film “Chronicle“.
Andrew (Dane DeHaan) is sort of an outcast. He is the type of teen who no one really pays attention to except when to make a laugh, except for his cousin Matt (Alex Russell) who tries to be his companion. One evening, Andrew and Matt goes to a Rave, and with Steve (Michael B. Jordan), the three stumble across a gaping hole in the woods. The three find a mysterious object that renders them unconscious, and the next day, they find that they have been granted strange powers--the ability to move objects with their mind. Now with telekinesis being the one thing that bonds them closer, but it may also be the one thing that will tear their friendship apart; much to the chagrin of the whole world…
Seeing the extended trailers of “Chronicle” one would immediately get an idea what the film’s premise is all about. It was refreshing to see a film that somehow goes into the mind of its characters. They react to the situation differently, and they all have different things that they want to do with this power. The first act of the film starts off innocently, as this power bonds our trio, they play, they banter and they learn the limits of this power. They all had the reactions of a teenager, and they see telekinesis as a plaything. But we all know how developing teenage minds can easily be corrupted by such a responsibility--especially when each teen have their own insecurities that set them apart.
Ok, so the film’s core premise did remind me of the Japanese anime cult classic “Akira”, but who really is counting for originality here? It was interesting for the screenplay and the direction to not really make one more evil than the other, but rather, one happens in the film is all about their reactions. Andrew is the social outcast and so, you know his insecurities may take him to test the limits of what is morally correct or not. I enjoyed the way the three characters were able to connect, that despite the film’s simple plot, I was engaged in the film’s entirety. I was convinced by what I was seeing and I could really buy into its groundwork that made the final act much more satisfying.
I mean it was also so cool how they used the camera footage style as the scenes toggled between hand-held or “thought held” cameras, security cameras, live news footages and even from the view of the spectators. I mean the way the movie was shot was pretty cool. I mean, the writing seemed to cover the possibilities of telekinesis. Now, we all saw that bus thrown in the trailer and I have to say, the film had some cool super-powered fights that can put the movie franchise “X-Men” to shame. The battle between our teens was very intense and I was kept in suspense as I saw sheer emotion within Matt and Andrew drive their displays of power. Oh, the writing also managed to explain how telekinesis worked, which made any questions how a simple human being can withstand such punishment irrelevant. Buildings are smashed into, cars are crushed, they all exhibited the power of flight--I could just feel each impact from the screen. Some elements also definitely seemed inspired by “Akira”; most especially the effects as the floating rubble and dirt seemed to add drama to the displays of power. The way the impacts and explosions really felt like they have been inspired by Japanese anime.
Surprisingly, the film is well acted for this type of film. Andrew does take the central stage and Dane Dehaan was effective in the portrayal of his character. Steve and Matt were all there to support our estranged teen, but they both were there to aid in the expression of the film’s intentions. I did feel that some supporting characters were a little too forced, and I did have some issues with the way the script made certain scenes feel too cartoonish. They weren’t enough to really hurt the film’s flow, but they were there.
“Chronicle”--so why is it called by this title? I suppose it meant that something incredible needs to be chronicled, because often, these things never stay the same. The film was engrossing and highly enjoyable; despite its simple devices and set ups, it never lost its momentum and I was definitely drawn into the film the longer it went on. I suppose while the writing weren’t totally successful in bringing together a true study of power and corruption, it more than made up for it by sheer boldness and imagination. Sure, it did have some rough spots, but it gets a strong recommendation from me. But keep in mind, if you never cared about the documentary POV style cinematography before, you would be better off skipping it. “Chronicle” is a must-see for certain viewers.
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
*** out of **** 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 … 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
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.