I know it’s not a new release at the moment and will likely leave theaters relatively soon, but I made it a point to go and see Chronicle this past weekend. Ever since I saw the teaser for this film, I was intrigued. As a fan of the super hero genre, I thought the film had potential, though I was afraid it was going to end up being some teen-angst movie. Lucky for me, that wasn’t the case; in fact, the movie turned out to be even better than I hoped.
For those you may not know of Chronicle, here’s how IMDbdescribes the premise: “Three high school friends gain superpowers after making an incredible discovery. Soon, though, they find their lives spinning out of control and their bond tested as they embrace their darker sides.”
The film is reminiscent of the Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity in that it is filmed from the point of view of a video camera in the movie, also known as a found-footage film. In this case, it was a camera carried around by Andrew Detmer, brilliantly played by Dane DeHaan. This style of film has become quite popular lately, and Chronicle (an apt title considering their chronicling their uncanny experiences) did an excellent job in making it work.
Now I’ve seen a lot of movies involving superpowers, but very few have done as good a job as Chronicle in explaining and exploring those powers. Granted, you never learn what accounts for the powers in this film, aside from the fact that the characters touched a mysterious meteor, but watching them become familiar with their capabilities and exercise their power, which they liken to building a muscle, is both logical and entertaining. I also liked how all three were granted the same power, telekinesis, but learned how to use it in different ways to grant themselves invulnerability, flight, etc. It’d have been an easy copout to randomly give them all different powers, and I’m glad they didn’t take that route.
There was a lot I liked about Chronicle, but I think the thing I enjoyed the most was DeHann’s performance. Before this film, I had never heard of DeHann, though I later learned he played Timbo on True Blood and Jesse on the the HBO series In Treatment. He’s got a few other credits to his name, but playing the lead in Chronicle will no doubt prove his big break in feature films.
I mentioned before that I didn’t want the film to be dominated by teen-angst, so it’s kind of ironic that’s what made DeHann’s enactment to compelling. I liked Andrew in the film, so watching how outside influences, like a troubled family life, impacted how he used his power was both sad and engaging. A great character to say the least.
I also think the other two super-powered characters, Matt Garetty and Steve Montgomery (played by Alex Russell and Michael B. Jordan), were likeable in their own ways. The former portrayed a heartthrob loner while the latter was the popular guy in school. Combined with Andrew’s dark, loser persona, and the filmmakers covered a good spectrum of the various high school niches.
Speaking of the filmmakers, this marked Josh Trank’s directorial debut in motion pictures, while the young Max Landis (born August 3, 1985) did an excellent job with the screenplay. I imagine Landis spent many of hours daydreaming about having super powers in his youth, and if that’s the case, he did a good job putting his thoughts on paper.
The other highlight of the film was the special effects. I wasn’t expecting much given the film had a $12 million budget, but I was thoroughly impressed with what I saw. The scene where the characters were flying through the clouds was really cool, and when they were sitting atop a skyscraper, well let's just say it was so realistic it made me a little queasy. Throw in some tense action sequences and you have a recipe that totally capture's the audience’s attention.
I don’t know what else to say other than I was very pleased with Chronicle. Given all the special effects, I think this is one of those movies that prove more enjoyable in a theater than at home, but either way, I recommend checking it out.
Buddies Forever Movie Club Rating: 84%
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