Review: Chronicle

Posted February 11th, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Though widely described as a found-footage film Chronicle instead takes on its name as one of three high schoolers who receive mysterious powers record the events that take place throughout. The movie takes on a point-of-view framing rather than becoming about a later discovery as the viewer goes along for the ride that culminates in a surprisingly dark and destructive conclusion.

Chronicle also isn’t a superhero movie – what it does present is a situation where immature and flawed individuals find themselves with enormous and growing powers and the struggle with that responsibility. Can they use the powers for good? It’s a question that is asked but ultimately how is that even done? The characters face quandaries such as those while inner-struggles and outside forces influence their decisions and how they develop.

That all turns out to to feel original and mildly fascinating. Not just in how the characters deal with their personal situations but how the filmmakers use the circumstances to their advantage. Though at times there is the “shaky-cam” effect having his powers allows for the main character – who started with all the filming – to use telekinesis to levitate his camera. That provides for a completely fresh (and stabilized) perspective.

The three main characters are Andrew (Dane DeHaan) who is somewhat of an outcast and has a rough family life, Matt (Alex Russell) his cousin, and Steve (Michael B. Jordan) who’s especially popular and charismatic. Though they could seem like caricatures they’re anything but – Matt is unsure about Andrew but wants to help him, and Steve is genuinely caring – they build a real bond around sharing the powers they’ve obtained.

Despite all the positive elements – including the lack of a score which was really effective in dramatic scenes – the film didn’t completely click with me until the final 20 minutes or so when the action and intensity really picked up. There were also a few things like a surprise death, a side-plot with a girl who just by chance is also filming every-day events, as well as some sub-par special effects that ultimately detracted from the entire experience. The good though definitely outweighed the bad and it’s an admirable effort.

For a low budget film Chronicle delivered enough authenticity considering the setup to overcome lackluster special effects. The story and characters were genuine and interesting to follow – with a sense of mystery still lingering and potential for a sequel apparent.

Rating: ★★★½☆