Monday, February 06, 2012


Year: 2012
Director: Josh Trank
Cast: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan, Ashley Hinshaw

Plot: Three high school boys obtain telekinetic abilities after venturing into a mysterious hole. Their exploits are viewed from the camera lens of Andrew, one of the boys whose problems at home and school causes him to lose control and inflict severe damage.

Review: Chronicle is a combination of two genres: superheroes and found footage. Even so, it is unlike any superhero or found footage film I've ever seen. Firstly, most superheroes take responsibility for their abilities. Secondly, found footage films have dates and statements and such. Chronicle does not have these, and it works to their advantage.

The film is made up of camera footage taken by Andrew, a boy who has a sick mother and an abusive father, and is constantly picked on by bullies at school. The other two boys are Matt and Steve, the former being Andrew's wiser cousin, and the latter being the most popular kid at school, who is running for student president. We see how the three kids climb into a dark hole in the woods, find something strange inside and are subsequently given telekinetic powers. They then begin testing their newfound gifts, first for fun, then for pranks. Then as things in Andrew's life take a turn for the worst, he starts using his powers abusively, and the proverbial shit hits the fan.

Director Josh Trank and writer Max Landis do a great job in coming up with a story that is realistic and fascinating in its execution. The two actually pulled this off with a minimal budget, so it is impressive to see the visual effects at work, as the kids move things from baseballs to cars, and eventually fly too.

Trank not only uses Andrew's camera to document the happenings, he also uses cameras from a supporting character, Casey (Matt's girlfriend) as well as security cameras in public places, which is an ingenious move as it better explains how we get to see all this footage rather than rely on just one camera as in other films of its kin.

The three boys are played by relatively unknown actors, and Dane DeHaan is excellent as the troubled Andrew. By the time he switches to Carrie mode at the film's climax, he is truly scary. Alex Russell and Michael B. Jordan are also good as Matt and Steve respectively, though to be honest, all three characters are typical kids you've seen in other films.

The last 20 minutes of the film is the best part, when Matt attempts to stop Andrew from hurting others, and the audience is put right in the middle of something that feels like a disaster flick, and it's just awesome. Perhaps my only gripe is that the film plays out just the way you'd expect it to. But overall Chronicle is a fun ride and a solid addition to found footage films. (3.5/5)

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