Director: Josh Trank
Michael B. Jordan/Steve
Three high school kids: the jock, the in between-er and the reject; find a glowing “something” in the ground that winds up giving them telekinesis powers. At first they have fun with their new found skills until one of them takes shit too far and gives General Zod a run for his money. Kneel before who?
If you think “high school kids” get powers from an object they find underground; the cheapie 2002 offering THE SURGE (aka THE SOURCE) may pop to mind. But fear not; where THE SURGE came off as a tacky THE CRAFT rip-off; CHRONICLE took its similar initial premise and did something pretty damn fly with it. Now I don't know whom you were or are in high school... but if like me you had/have daydreams of possessing super powers, using them for cheap thrills, to impress girls and to get revenge on the peeps that messed with ya, then you may relate to this mothertrucker. Watching Chronicle brought me back to my high school daydreams and I am sure that I won't be alone in that department.
Told for the most part by way of handy-cam footage shot by one of the main characters (and eventually security cameras... until the "self film" angle is dropped all together); the stylistic narrative approach here was a wise one. Yes Chronicle could have been shot in a “regular” way throughout, but I don't think I would have warmed up to the three leads as much if it was. As it was (tagged with the seeming-less performances and screenwriter Max Landis honest dialogue), I felt close to these lads hence I gave a f*ck. And when you care about the players, you get involved and affected by the game. On a side note, I gotta say it; having one of the duders learn to control the camera with his mind was a stroke of genius. It added to the character, as the events were conveyed via his POV and on top of that they kept the verite style going whilst retaining some standard film-making qualities. So yeah, we got our high angle shots, crane shots etc and at times more unique type of shots surfaced due to the floating camera motif. Moreover, the casting of our three gents was on the money that's for sure! Tackled by “Young DiCaprio look-alike” Dane DeHaan (Andrew), Alex Russell (Matt) and Michael B. Jordan (Steve); our trio shared an engaging and palpable (always wanted to use that word) chemistry. Dhaan kicked in the pathos/inner turmoil, Russell the rational and Jordan the laughs. A well rounded mix! I'd hang with these mofos!
The story itself worked me on three potent levels. At first it was kind of a teen high jinx affair; with the boys learning to use their skills and having fun with them. And I was having a blast through them having a blast! It then moved into teen-revenge fantasy mode; where powers were used to deliver some healthy payback. I felt the kid's pain and got off on him administrating said pain onto the "a-holes" in his world. And finally the whole thing went tits up in a mucho physical way; with eye popping stunts, well choreographed/executed action bits and stellar CGI effects that I didn't see coming. I was on the edge of my edge! That was actually one of the movie's key strengths. It started on a low-key note, like an Indie with little coin behind it and as the dire circumstances built up, so did the visual wizardry and the scope of it all. So when the last block kicked in; I was sucker punched and floored! To say that I had a big grin on my face and dropped a handful of healthy “f*ck yeahs” would be an understatement. Big props to first time feature director Josh Trank for throwing such an effect heavy party and coming out of it looking like an old pro. No wonder he just nabbed the Fantastic Four reboot gig. Chronicle made for quite the “calling card”!
On a negative jab, one character’s descent into madness didn't feel 100% authentic. They skipped a couple of beats. A smoother and more gradual build-up from maladjusted to full on Coo-Coo for CoCo Puffs would have been appreciated. And what was up with that hot blonde with a camera of her own and some blog? She came out of nowhere and I was kind of aloof as to how she fit in the big picture. To me, it was obvious that she was only there to add one more camera in there and play the Lois Lane role during the last act i.e. serve the plot. Finally the visual effects were sometimes uneven. Nothing critical to be honest but for some reason the smaller things didn't look as slick as the huge sequences... go figure.
Overall Chronicle took familiar elements from varied types of movies (reality style, high school comedy, super hero flick, revenge fantasy) slapped them in the celluloid blender and created its own, fresh and tasty concoction. Familiar yet different! LOVED IT! When I came out of the theater, I thought: “Now, what would I do if I had them super powers?” Answer? World domination off the bat. Apex predator this!
We get some light blood and an impaling.
T & A
Surprisingly none. If I had super powers, lots of tops would drop!
It's X-Men meets Carrie with a pinch of Zapped, Superman 2 and Akira dropped in there for good measure! Chronicle entertained me on many echelons: as a drama, a comedy, a revenge fantasy and a bleak superhero flick. The acting was legit, the directing inventive and surprisingly mature (for a first timer) and the final act gave me lots of “wow” for my bucks. Granted the from maladjusted to evil trek one character took felt somewhat rushed, the chick with the blog subplot was forced and some of the CG wasn't full on tops, but on the whole I had freaking hoot with this one and I am definitely up for a Chronicle Part 2, are you?!
Dane DeHaan was also on True Blood as Timbo
Screenwriter Max Landis is of course director John Landis (American Werewolf in London) son.
Ashley Hinshaw (blog chick) was a model for Abercrombie & Fitch.