Running Time: 84 minutes
Starring: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly, Ashley Hinshaw
Directed By: Josh Trank
Rating: 6 out of 10
Three teens stumble upon an unknown object that gives them superpowers.
Most people have wondered what it would be like to be a superhero (well mostly nerds that is.) This film does a decent job of going through the motions of what someone would do if suddenly they were blessed with unnatural abilities. Chronicle is the story of three high school students. While exploring an underground cave they stumble upon an object that gives them superpowers. With their new found power come dark thoughts and that may tear the three friends apart.
The film is shot in the found footage style so I won’t get into the whole why would they be filming everything. It starts off with the three kids attending high school. What I liked about this film is the three friends are all at different levels of social status. Andrew is a loner, a geek, creepy, whatever you want to call it. He has a rough home life with an abusive dad and a sick mom. His cousin Matt is more popular, but also try hard. He might be a little cooler if he didn’t sing Jessie J songs in this, just saying. Steve is the most popular guy at school; he is charming, charismatic, and likable. Although they would never become friends in real life. The superpower secret has created a unique bond between them, and it gives a cool perspective for the film. As their powers grow their philosophies on how to use them take shape. Do they keep the power a secret? Do they use them for good or evil? All good questions and their lives play a huge role in determining their answers. The film’s progression is actually quite believable as they discover and improve their powers. Things like playing practical jokes on people by levitating toys, throwing baseballs at each other, and causing the wind to raise a girls skirt are all things normal teens would start out doing. The film although interesting spends the entire movie making the viewer understand that their powers are growing. So while it is cool that they can levitate objects, create barriers, and even fly, it does this for the ENTIRE film. This film desperately needed a bank robbery, a shootout, or a huge fire to test these kids but nothing was forth coming. This story took a predictable superhero course where the ending would culminate into one huge fight.
The unknown cast doesn’t do a great job but does enough not to ruin the film. The loner Andrew played by Dane DeHaan does a good job in his role. He is picked on at school, beaten at home, and is losing his mother to a sickness. His new found powers give him a measure of strength from a position of weakness, and it is cool to see his evolution from a so called nobody to something more. His chaotic emotions are used perfectly in this and drive the story down its darker road. You will probably hate his voice though, and I got an Edward Furlong vibe from him but he gives a solid performance. His cousin Matt played by Alex Russell was neither good nor bad he was just merely there. I probably wouldn’t be able to pick him out of a line up in a few weeks. He wasn’t the worst though so I won’t criticize. Last is Steve played by Michael B. Jordan (I am assuming no relation). He works as the popular kid but his role could have been played by any actor out there. When it is just two of them on screen it is easier to handle then when all three of them get together. As their powers increase so does their douchiness level. They laugh like hyenas as they cause general mischief all over the city. They could have toned down their personalities a little bit as they were trying to hide their secret.
The film has such a positive vibe and then quickly spins out of control so that you won’t know what hit you. With great power comes great responsibility but also great popularity. So the three friends are thrust to the top of their social groups and each has their own way of dealing with it. A lot of people thrive in the limelight but most fracture in it and that is why I ultimately liked this film. Although they may have superpowers they are still kids with the same everyday popularity struggles and self worth issues. It is also cool to think what you would do with the same powers. (It disturbs me that robbing a bank is all I can come up with.)The film has a short run time so it never drags or gets caught up in anything unnecessary. When the end comes it is a perfect finale on a movie that needed more action scenes like it. So overall I liked the film I just felt it spent too much time building the story and not enough scenes of them really using their powers. I get that they can levitate shit now go out and do something crazy with it.
Director Josh Trank's debut film was a success if not amazing. He knows his audience and gets the most out of the film with a PG-13 rating. The budget (est. 12 mill) was clearly a limiting factor as the CGI was weak in some instances. (i.e. fake looking baseball, stupid levitating potato chips). It seems they saved most of their budget for the ending which I was okay with as it looked great and really gave closure to film that desperately needed it. Tranks could have broken up the story more with additional scenes of action and less scenes of discovering their abilities. The camera work was decent for found footage and he used a unique way too shoot this movie. Overall he did a decent job.
I give this movie a recommendation but it is a lot of story to action ratio so be warned.
T Factor + If you like found footage films then this could score higher on the rating scale.
T Factor – If you do not like superhero movies then this could score lower on the rating scale.