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MOVIE REVIEW: Chronicle

Posted on February 5, 2012

Director: Josh Trank

Screenwriter: Max Landis

Starring: Dane DeHaan, Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly, Alex Russell

Release Date: February 3, 2012

After getting exposed from some strange and mysterious forces underground, three young high school students gain powers of telekinesis, and together they grow a strong bond with one another… Chronicle. Yeah, that sounds like some kind of lame intro from a Saturday morning kids show from the early 90s, but that's a fairly solid description of what this film is about. Of course, this movie is a lot more exciting that a bunch of teenagers acquiring awesome powers and becoming friends.

The story primarily focuses on Andrew (Dane DeHaan), who fits the typical anti-social type character. Living with his ill mother and abusive dad, he records all the events that happens to him. Whether at school, at home or out with his two buddies, he takes his camcorder wherever he goes. There's also Matt (Alex Russell), Andrew's cousin who plays the role of the responsible, older brother, and Steve (Michael B. Jordan), the popular jock. Andrew never really spent to much time with the other two, but after getting himself dragged down a strange hole in the ground, they eventually gain some spectacular powers when exposed to some mystical energies. Together they learn how to use their new abilities, and a special bond is made between the three.

Chronicle follows a similar format to superhero origin films, where the heroes gain supernatural abilities, learn to use them, then some type of conflict ensues where they have to put these newly gained powers to the test. The movie follows this formula well, but what sets this story apart from those superhero flicks we've seen in the past is that this is given to us through the perspective of the modern day teenager. Yeah, one could argue that Spider-Man gave that to us ten years ago, but Chronicle doesn't deal with evil scientists or supervillains. Instead, the film focuses on very adolescent issues, like popularity, fitting in, social parties and girls. Because of this setting, the story can be set on a relatable and somewhat believable foundation.

That being said, it was awesome to see how these three guys train themselves to better control their powers. As teenagers with no responsibilities, they don't necessarily think about the consequences of misusing their powers, so what do they do? They play pranks on people. From scaring kids at a toy store to moving around parked cars, these guys end up screwing around with people from all over their neighborhood. Then once they gain the ability to fly, they totally go bananas over it, and almost end up killing themselves in the process. Teenagers with cool powers? Yeah, I can see them doing stuff like that. Oh, and that whole flying sequence? Absolutely phenomenal.

The movie is also shot in a "found footage" manner, where what we see is taken from cameras used by characters on screen. So while most of the movie is shown through Andrew's camera, we also get bits and pieces from security cams and such. Some might find the whole found footage thing a bit annoying in the beginning, but once Andrew gets better control over his powers, he begins to float his camcorder around effortlessly. So about halfway through the film, the gimmick of the handheld camera remains there, but the movie is shot traditionally (most of the time).

And as much as my review may make Chronicle sound like a teenage feel-good movie, it isn't. There's a lot of tragic elements that occur during the film, and you'll definitely have mixed feelings over Andrew's character once he begins to abuse his powers. As the movie draws closer to its finale, you'll get to witness some pretty great "Akira" moments. I have to say, director Josh Trank was able to achieve a lot out of this film with the small budget he had. I was skeptical on this movie when I first saw the trailer, but I have to say, it was definitely a pleasant surprise.

8 out of 10
Review by: Richard Fagel


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