Chronicle – 84 min – PG13
I imagine stories of super powers have been with us from the time of the cave man. They would tell stories of one cave man so powerful he can kill seven mammoths with just one blow. Fast forward to today and this review of an origin story of how three boys gain super powers and struggle to deal with this new reality. This movie examines the adage “power corrupts” in a social experiment that gives three people of various backgrounds the same power and we see what happens to them. Wow, that sounds like a bad Candid Camera set up. Having super powers is a new hot topic in film and television. This version, however, is great as they keep it focused on how the people deal with the change more than the powers. I had problems with the choice of hand-held camera footage, but I am going to give this movie a green light for the power of its story.
Andrew (Dane DeHaan) has a camera and he is going to film his life as a teenager. He is in high school and kind of a loner. His only friend is his cousin Matt (Alex Russell). Matt convinces Andrew that he needs to get out more and experience life. They go to a rave and meet up with Steve (Michael B. Jordan), the popular kid in school. They stumble upon something odd in the woods that gives them unusual powers. Because Andrew is recording his entire life we see all of the experiments they do with their new-found powers.
This story is a very new perspective on a story that has been told in TV and Comic books. Yes, it’s all fantasy, but the real elements are what really make this an interesting story. Because they all come from different backgrounds they all have different ways of dealing with the stress. While their powers grow they also have to deal with teenager life problems. As a former teenager and the father of one, I know how much a teen has to deal with without adding all of the stress of super powers.
It was very interesting to see how they make choices based on what they were dealing with. Max Landis wrote the screenplay and has a really great sense of how to blend the real and imaginary to create this universe.
This is Josh Trank’s first director credit. He did a great job with making this story feel real. The only issues I have with this movie is the hand held camera and the story telling from other cameras point of view. The “found footage” like quality of the film does nothing for me. It is really a distraction because we can’t get any footage that is not from some standing camera someplace in the movie. The beginning of the film where Andrew is packing around a camera this works but towards the end when the action is wrapping up it loses the cool factor and ends up being a distraction. This move is 90% win if they would have rethought the camera gimmick I think it would have worked on all levels for me.
Spoiler Warning!! This Area is Kryptonite to some movie fans, Be Careful!!!
I thought that having Ashley Hinshaw as another student video blogger was incredibly convenient to get a second cut away shot when you needed it. When you are outside of Andrew’s vicinity and need to have other story elements added using her character is one way to still keep the hand held camera gimmick going and still give you more room for other stories. She seemed underused as a performer in this film and I look forward to seeing what she has to offer other films.
When Andrew started to hover, his camera was also another great way to expand your view. We now have the ability to do a Two Shot from a hand held camera without having to explain why someone is walking around two people have a conversation.
This is Matt’s origin story. We have a focus on one person that really is just the catalyst of why the new hero takes up the mantle of doing right with his powers and with finding out what happened. Everything led up to the last moment when we have the last good bye from him to Andrew.
I usually end on question for you to think about, I am going to finish off with a plea. Max, Josh; please for the love of god and everything holy, please, please , please; no matter how much money the studios offer you or how they might tempt you, do NOT, I repeat DO NOT, make a sequel.
This movie is good as it is. We the viewers do not need to see a sequel. When you hit that high note walk off stage. I am reminded of many films that were a good idea once and they were ruined by their sequels. Cough….Cough Blues Brothers 2000 Cough. Do something Hollywood has forgotten about, be original.