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Review: Chronicle

Feb. 2, 2012by: Chris Bumbray

PLOT: Three high school seniors stumble upon a strange cavern which gives them telekinetic abilities. At first, the three use their new powers for fun and mischief, but as their abilities start to grow, so does the temptation to give in to their darker impulses.

REVIEW: I really wasnt looking forward to CHRONICLE, and I dont think anyone can blame me. I mean a found-footage superhero film? Surely this was going to be one for the books, and not in a good way. Walking into the premiere, I buckled down and expected the worst. Imagine my surprise when, within literally the first few seconds- when unbalanced teen Andrew (Dane DeHaan) has locked his abusive father in a closet and is tearfully saying that from now on, all of his abuse will be documented with his new camera, I was hooked. Clearly, CHRONICLE was going to be a cut above your average found-footage potboiler.


From there, the film just sinks its claws into you and doesnt let go. Despite the super-scant eighty-minute running time, CHRONICLE never fells rushed. Rather, the entire first half of the film is spent getting to know our three leads (DeHaan, Alex Russell, and the mega-charismatic Michael B. Jordan from PARENTHOOD & FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS). Before they get their powers, the three can barely tolerate each other, with DeHaan being the creepy outsider (not helped by his new found obsession with video cameras), Russell playing his cousin, who can barely tolerate him, but hangs out with him mainly due to pity, and Jordan- as the ultra-popular jock/overachiever. Their new powers immediately equalize the three, and from there they become inseparable as they share the joy of their new powers, including the ability to fly.

The curve ball comes about halfway way into the movie, when an accident inadvertently unleashes Andrews repressed darkness, leading to a reign of terror that ends with probably the best superhero battle Ive seen since SUPERMAN II. The last fifteen or so minutes of CHRONICLE hurtle forward like a freight-train, and features some incredibly innovative carnage- doubly impressive as the film reportedly only carries a $15million price tag.


Now, the found-footage aspect may put some people off. As a rule, Im not a fan of these types of films, but CHRONICLE goes right where a lot of these films go wrong. Most importantly, the film is well cast- as all three leads are rock-solid, with each bringing something fresh to their parts. DeHaan simmers with repressed rage, while Jordan swaggers with the best of em. Alex Russell probably has the hardest part, as hes tasked with playing the noble, kindhearted-one, and of the trio- hes supposed to be the guy with the most potential to become an all-out hero, but hes eminently likable.

As for the filming technique, CHRONICLE isnt limited to the footage recovered from Andrews camera. Theres no gimmick whereupon someones reviewing Andrews tapes after the events of the film take place. Rather- were just seeing things through the lens of any camera that happens to be close by, and the resolution and look changes depending on the camera- ranging from Andrews initially low-res, outdated DV-Cam, to black and white security cams, and more. All in all very effective. Watching CHRONICLE is almost enough to make me reconsider my stand on found-footage films, although I think, more than anything, the effectiveness of CHRONICLE has less to do with the gimmick being used to tell the tale, and everything with the talent behind the camera. Its worth noting that Max Landis screenplay for CHRONICLE was on The Black List at one point, and for once- the black list hype lives up to the finished film. Director Josh Trank also strikes me as a big potential new directing talent, and if the rumors about him being behind the FANTASTIC FOUR reboot are true- count me in.

Source: JoBlo.com

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2:08PM on 02/11/2012
I wasn't looking forward to it but I ended up loving it. After seeing how much he's grown, literally and figuratively I think it's time for Michael B. Jordan to become a star.
I wasn't looking forward to it but I ended up loving it. After seeing how much he's grown, literally and figuratively I think it's time for Michael B. Jordan to become a star.
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10:49PM on 02/04/2012
Really impressive, considering I'm not much a fan of "found footage" movies. For once, the gimmick is used to great effect and doesn't hinder my viewing pleasure. More importantly, they really nailed the characters here. I really connected with the three of them, as they acted like real teenagers without being too obnoxious and dumb. I especially was floored by Andrew, even being the "bad guy", I still felt for him. And the last 20 minutes was really kick-ass and actually managed to give a
Really impressive, considering I'm not much a fan of "found footage" movies. For once, the gimmick is used to great effect and doesn't hinder my viewing pleasure. More importantly, they really nailed the characters here. I really connected with the three of them, as they acted like real teenagers without being too obnoxious and dumb. I especially was floored by Andrew, even being the "bad guy", I still felt for him. And the last 20 minutes was really kick-ass and actually managed to give a proper ending. All in all, it is a "found footage" movie without the inherent flaws of the sub-genre.
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12:50AM on 02/04/2012
IMPECCABLE!!!! 9/10
IMPECCABLE!!!! 9/10
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12:07AM on 02/03/2012

The initial teaser

had me pretty excited, but when I saw the TV spots, they didn't incite the same level of enthusiasm...but I'm very happy to hear so much high praise so far..very intriguing idea for a film...if a bunch of teenagers all of a sudden got powers, would they use them to stop crime? Chronicle answers this question in a fun and realistic way:They'd mess with people! Looks like I know where I'll be this weekend!
had me pretty excited, but when I saw the TV spots, they didn't incite the same level of enthusiasm...but I'm very happy to hear so much high praise so far..very intriguing idea for a film...if a bunch of teenagers all of a sudden got powers, would they use them to stop crime? Chronicle answers this question in a fun and realistic way:They'd mess with people! Looks like I know where I'll be this weekend!
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7:10PM on 02/02/2012

Fantastic film

Agree 100% with the reviewer. It is an amazing film. Couldn't recommend it highly enough. The chemistry the 3 main actors have is what makes the film.
Agree 100% with the reviewer. It is an amazing film. Couldn't recommend it highly enough. The chemistry the 3 main actors have is what makes the film.
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+5
7:05PM on 02/02/2012
I saw it Tuesday night, and you can count me in as a big fan. I found it also refreshing that in a movie about superpowers that they didn't once go down the geek route and compare their powers to anything in comic books or movies. And I say this as a bonafide, comic book reading, geek/nerd.
Also, the scene with the use of Ziggy Stardust playing in the background was just so well done in the simplicity of it, and I'm still trying to figure out why I liked that scene so much.
I saw it Tuesday night, and you can count me in as a big fan. I found it also refreshing that in a movie about superpowers that they didn't once go down the geek route and compare their powers to anything in comic books or movies. And I say this as a bonafide, comic book reading, geek/nerd.
Also, the scene with the use of Ziggy Stardust playing in the background was just so well done in the simplicity of it, and I'm still trying to figure out why I liked that scene so much.
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7:19PM on 02/02/2012
That scene with Ziggy Stardust stuck with me as well. Like you said, the simplicity of what is being shown, added to the events happening around that time, come together perfectly I guess.
That scene with Ziggy Stardust stuck with me as well. Like you said, the simplicity of what is being shown, added to the events happening around that time, come together perfectly I guess.
5:06PM on 02/02/2012
My buddy and I saw the commercial to this the other day. He didn't seem interested, but I definitely was. After reading the review (and emailing it to my buddy), I think we'll check it out.
My buddy and I saw the commercial to this the other day. He didn't seem interested, but I definitely was. After reading the review (and emailing it to my buddy), I think we'll check it out.
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+1
3:48PM on 02/02/2012
Yeah its not this style of filming that's mediocre, its the way its often used. If we get a Fantastic Four as good as this one seems to be, wow.
Yeah its not this style of filming that's mediocre, its the way its often used. If we get a Fantastic Four as good as this one seems to be, wow.
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3:37PM on 02/02/2012
I've definitely heard enough to now be interested. Couldn't say that last month . . .
I've definitely heard enough to now be interested. Couldn't say that last month . . .
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3:33PM on 02/02/2012

This looks good!

I was afraid i'd be fed a bowl of shit. But it sounds like it's gonna be good!
I was afraid i'd be fed a bowl of shit. But it sounds like it's gonna be good!
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4:04PM on 02/02/2012
A bowl of shit? Nasty.
A bowl of shit? Nasty.
3:31PM on 02/02/2012
Does look good, wanted to root against Max Landis, but I guess he's got chops
Does look good, wanted to root against Max Landis, but I guess he's got chops
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