JT Film Review

Chronicle (2012)

Chronicle Review
Review # 142

4/5 stars

Director – Josh Trank

Cast – Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly, Ashley Hinshaw

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Chronicle has in its story the embodiment of all our teenage desires. Who as a teen did not dream of being able to fly, or of wowing their classmates with telekinetic abilities? Come on, you know you did.

The three high schoolers of Chronicle contract their powers after investigating a mysterious hole in the middle of the woods. At the bottom is a glowing blue something; we never find out what exactly it is (and don’t need to frankly), but the next thing our trio knows is that, using their minds, they can manipulate Lego blocks in mid-air, move cars around in parking lots, and throw wicked curveballs. It starts off as innocently as that. These are teens after all, normal teens, with all the annoying traits you would associate with them. They are uncertain of their place in the world, and they are emotional. They just happen to have the ability to do move objects with their minds, and they react accordingly.

 The main character of the three, Andrew, is a quiet loner who likes playing with cameras. It is mainly through his camera that we see the events of Chronicle unfold. His father is a drunk who beats him, and his mother is dying. He is not a happy child. The second, Matt, is his cousin. He is a bit more “normal”, and in a neat switch, ends up being the protagonist in the third act. The last one in the group is “the popular guy”, Steve, a nice kid who can be a bit of an arrogant jock. These kids would not normally be friends, this is made clear to us. But experience can bond people together, and these three soon find themselves spending most of their time together. Who else would you hang out with but the only two other people on Earth who can fly? Who else could you throw a football around with at 5,000 feet?

The strength of the movie (and it’s point really) is its demonstration of the old adage, “Power corrupts”. It does this fairly well, although its way of showing one of the characters “go bad” can be too on-the-nose. Some lines seem ripped out of all those movies where the bad guy says something along the lines of “Humans are an inferior species. You wouldn’t worry about killing a bug, would you?” Don’t all super villains use that line? And I will never forgive the use of the line “I am the apex predator!”

In the end Chronicle’s story is not that new (hell, add a light saber and it is the Star Wars prequel trilogy squished down to 90 minutes), but the point is the way the story is told. It is the writing that is the star here, it is truly fantastic. The characters are all fully realized and fleshed out, and the teens act like teens. They don’t spout one-liners or incessantly quote pop culture. This is not the O.C., and we can thank God for that.

The found footage style can be very immersive, and has worked excellently in movies like Cloverfield and REC. It is used to good effect here in general, but I must say the concept feels forced at times. The problem with found footage is that there must be a good reason for there to be a camera present. This is stretched to the limit a couple of times, mainly with the character of Matt’s girlfriend. We can accept a loner like Andrew always carrying a camera around with him. There is even a nice speculative line near the beginning that the reason for the camera is that it keeps him at a distance from events. But to add another character, a good-looking sociable girl, who also randomly tapes everything “for her blog” feels forced. It doesn’t ruin the movie, but it is dangerous.

OVERALL

Chronicle is an involving movie with extraordinary writing. The characters are fully formed, and while the story may not be that new, the style feels so new that we don’t mind. Max Landis, who wrote the movie and is Blues Brothers director John Landis’ son, is a great new talent to keep an eye on. Easily recommended.

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TRAILER

 

“Chronicle” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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February 8, 2012 - Posted by | 4 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Sci-fi, Year - 2010-2019 | , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. Good review James. There isn’t much new or different this film is doing or saying but the format works perfectly and gets us inside the heads of these characters through all of the fun and not-so fun moments as well. Check out my review when you get the chance.

    Comment by CMrok93 | February 8, 2012 | Reply

  2. Great write-up! I really liked Chronicle overall. I felt there were some things that could’ve been done differently, especially the last three-minutes. You bring up an interesting point with the ‘reason’ the cameras are rolling. I appreciated Andrews reasoning but I also had wonder about the ‘blog girl’ also. Like you said, it helped with the movie story arc for the viewer but in the teens world, it was stretching the legitimacy. Great work. If you get a chance come check out my review of Chronicle and let me know what you think! http://paul-deleon.com/2012/02/04/chronicle-review/

    Comment by Paul De Leon | February 8, 2012 | Reply

  3. See I thought the fact that the teenagers talked like teenagers was dumb, tons of people have stupid home videos with dumb teen conversations that they don’t sell for millions of dollars for a reason. Realism doesn’t always sell. I’ll rant for a bit, because it reminds me of some Presidential races…sure Sarah Palin reminds me of my mom…that’s exactly why she SHOULDN’T be President! Anyway, I just wasn’t a fan of the script or the characters (the acting is alright) and I definitely also hated the line “I am the apex predator!”

    Comment by Logan | February 8, 2012 | Reply

  4. I see what you’re saying, but if Palin reminds you of your mom she cold probably play your mom in a movie, right? Same with the kids.
    But seriously, isn’t that an AWFUL line? lol Apex predator, o my geez…

    Comment by jamesturpin | February 9, 2012 | Reply


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