Chronicle, a new film based on the journeys of three teenagers who mysteriously gain superpowers, finds success in a new take on superheroes. The heroes are three average, troubled teenagers – one more troubled than the others – who gain superpowers. The story begins with Andrew, a teenage boy (played by Dane DeHaan) who has just purchased a new video camera. The opening scene is of Andrew pointing his camcorder at the mirror on his door as his drunken father threatens him from the other side. “I bought myself a new video camera. I’m recording everything,” warns Andrew.
The film moves through its exposition and introduces Matt (played by Alex Russell), Andrew’s cousin, when he gives Andrew a ride to school. The last friend out of the trio, Steve (played by Michael B. Jordan), is revealed at the high school where he reigns king – a popular kid running for class president. One fateful night, they discover a massive hole in the ground and decide to venture inside. They find inside of the hole a gigantic, glowing rock. The last shot before the camera glows black is of blood from Steve’s nose slowly levitating towards this mysterious rock. Andrew, Steve and Matt are bestowed with the gift of telekinesis. This power, they discover, is like a muscle that can grow stronger with practice.
At first, the trio solely use their powers for practical jokes. However, the hatred that Andrew harbors turns him evil. The fact that the main character turns against the other two heroes provides another interesting aspect to the film; it is not a clear-cut, hero vs. villain plot. The bonding that takes place between the three teens at the beginning of the movie makes the ending even more emotional and heartbreaking as Andrew turns against his best friends.
Chronicle reveals reality in the life of a teenager – one of the reasons I liked the movie so much. The experiences that Andrew goes through are shockingly realistic and sobering. A drunk father and a dying mother combined with numerous bullies at school depict pain and hardships that are true to real life. Additionally, Matt struggles with trying to win the heart of a girl he hurt years ago and with his own self-discovery. The feelings of sorrow, anger and being left out that the teenagers experience exemplify feelings felt by many teenagers going through high school.
Additionally, the movie brings prestige to the “found-film” sub-genre: A specific category of movies that involve “shaky cam” effects and often personal hand-camera point of view. Examples of this type include films such as Paranormal Activity, Cloverfield and The Blair Witch Project. Contrary to these movies, which usually include a predictable plot, cheesy supernatural aspects – and are oftentimes downright awful – Chronicle is different; rather, it rises above the typical, cliched superhero movie.
The camera angles grow increasingly appealing as the film progresses. Once Andrew learns to use his powers to levitate his camcorder, a myriad of angles become possible. Since the majority of the movie is shot with what appears to be Andrew’s camera, the audience perceives the movie from his battered, troubled point of view. In regard to special effects, Chronicle did a sufficient job. The stunts, which include performances such as levitation and flying, are fairly believable.
According to a review from IMDb.com, “Chronicle is the definition of a great found footage film. It is a fun, thrilling movie with simple, yet great dialogue that comes with a great story. Chronicle does a brilliant job at making you feel like you’re part of the movie.” Though the film was overall well done and memorable, the ending was not as impressive as the rest of the movie. The camera angles were not as intriguing and the scene where Andrew and Matt battle dragged on for too long and made their relationship seem not as deep as it really was. However, Chronicle was worth going to the theatre to see, and I would even go back and see it for a second time. A gripping plot, unique characters and well-composed camera shots allowed this film to rise above the rest.
Ultimately, I would give the film 4.5 out of 5 stars.