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 device that drives the movie CHRONICLE.
The movie is a "found footage" movie; it's a movie that portends to be actual real video footage that has been edited together into a movie. In CHRONICLE high school senior Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan) has been a virtual nobody his entire high school life. His father is an alcoholic who beats him. His mother lies in bed, slowly dying from an unnamed disease. Her illness has increased Richard Detmer's (Michael Kelly) drinking and in turn the frequency of Andrew's beatings. Andrew only has a few more months until graduation and he's clinging to anything that will see him through until then; if he can graduate he knows he can escape. Andrew's only friend in the world is his cousin, Matt Garetty (Alex Russell). Matt and Andrew are in the same class, but Matt is a popular student. He's the guy all the guys want to be like. Matt does small things to try to get Andrew out of his shell and says hi to him at school, but that's about it. Andrew buys a video camera to begin taping his life and it becomes an outlet for him. One night, Matt brings Andrew along with him to a rave. While there, Matt and his friend Steve Montgomery (Michael B. Jordan), who happens to be THE most popular student in the entire school, discover an underground cavern. They drag Andrew along with them to film what they have found. As it turns out the cavern ends up leading to a strange underground crystal and when they boys touch it their noses start to bleed and the Earth starts to shake.
Weeks later, the three boys are best friends. They do everything together and it soon becomes clear why: there experiences in the cavern have bonded them and given them super human abilities. They seem to possess powers of telekinesis and impenetrable skin (forks and knives been when jabbed against their bodies). As the film progresses, the boys discover even more abilities. However, as they do so, they also begin to struggle with their own emotions and beliefs. Steve seems unchanged by what's happened to him, Matt begins to realize that he gave up his core beliefs to become popular, and Andrew struggles with an internal rage that threatens to consume him.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed CHRONICLE. I'm not a big fan of found-footage movies, for instance I hated THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and I thought the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY was laughable. However, I did like CLOVERFIELD. CHRONICLE is more akin in tone and style to CLOVERFIELD with a touch of M. Night Shyamalan's UNBREAKABLE thrown in for good measure. Until the latter part of the movie, CHRONICLE feels like film taken from a teenage outcast's personal camera. Andrew has a really difficult life. He uses his camera to show the world what he has to deal with: the beatings from his father, the bullying at school, his deep love and devotion towards his dying mother whom he can't do anything for, and the flippant way his cousin Matt treats him. As the movie progresses, the focus begins to change. Instead of being a chronicle of his life to show others his innocence, it becomes a chronicle of how Andrew changes and becomes the very thing he hates at the beginning of the movie.
The overall plot of the movie is fairly predictable, but for a smaller-budget picture the director did a remarkable job of making the special effects look realistic. Also, there's some really great writing in the movie; the script allows for some very solid character development as the movie progresses. The effects and script are helped by some great acting. If this wasn't a sci-fi/action-drama, Dane DeHaan would probably be nominated for a bunch of acting awards for his portrayal of Andrew. Also, notable are Michael B. Jordan and Ashley Hinshaw as Matt's girlfriend Casey Letter. These are some actors whose stars will soon be rising fast.
Overall, even though CHRONICLE is a found footage movie, it avoids many of the pitfalls of those films and through some solid special effects, exceptional writing, and impressive acting, it makes one believe that not only can a man fly (at least in the movies), but forces one to think about what the consequences of having such powers might be.
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
*** 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
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.