There is a clear message to Chronicle: if you ever see a suspiciously round hole in the middle of a field, check it out. Just don’t bring anyone with emotional issues. Matt and Steve were doing just fine until they made the mistake of dragging Andrew down into the hole with them because they needed the light on his camera. Not wise, guys.
Andrew comes from a troubled home. His mother is dying from what appears to be cancer and his dad is a violent drunk and ex-firefighter who deals with the stress of it all by lashing out at Andrew. Because he acts reclusive, strange, and can’t seem to take a joke, the kids at school make fun of him too. If you’re a high school teenager, nothing is more fun than messing with someone to get a rise out of ‘em. It’s not so fun if you’re on the recieving end. Still, when Andrew starts bringing a professional, shoulder-mount camera to school to record everybody, he should really understand that he’s asking for trouble. It’s not an ideal situation, and an even worse situation when super powers enter into the mix. But his love of the camera does give us something to watch.
Chronicle is another shaky-cam (well, not too shaky), found-footage movie along the lines of Cloverfield or The Blair Witch Project. Everything shown in the movie is taken from some camera, be it Andrew’s, a security camera, or somebody else recording the festivities. It’s part teen drama (think Carrie) and part male teen prank awesomeness.
After Steve (Michael B. Jordan), Matt (Alex Russell), and Andrew (Dane DeHaan) experience “the hole,” they start to develop super powers. One of them discovers he can lift up a lego with his mind. Soon they figure out that their powers are kind of like muscles: the more they use them, the better they get and the larger objects they can move. Instead of donning tights and fighting crime though, they do what real teenage boys might, they mess with people and pull pranks. They make stuffed bears float in front of a little girl, move a ladies car, use a leaf blower to blow up some girls’ skirts. All good fun and hella entertaining to watch. Eventually things get bad as emotions start to heat up, but you can see that for yourself. Through it all, though, the three actors still seem like actual teenagers, which is a rare and interesting thing to watch. They just happen to have ridiculous abilities.
Chronicle is directed by Josh Trank and written by Max Landis, both young new filmmakers with no substantial films on their resumes. The movie they’ve created is awesome. Though it has a very small $15 budget, it’s full of special effects that are more dazzling than the biggest Hollywood blockbusters, mostly because it seems more real. Even when things turn crazy and people start flying into buildings, the special effects hold up. It reminds me of District 9, which had great effects on a small $30 budget as well because the director, Neill Blomkamp, used similar techniques.
The ending is a bit cheesy, but overall, Chronicle is one of the best super hero movies I’ve ever seen. I will definitely see it again and I can’t wait to see what Josh Trank and Max Landis work on next. These guys are extremely talented, and unlike a lot of filmmakers, they had a great idea to back up their skills as well. Chronicle will definitely be one of the best action movies all year. Check it out.