Chronicle (2012)


These guys may be asses, but I could imagine myself doing even worse with these powers.

Three high school students make an incredible discovery, leading to them developing uncanny powers beyond their understanding. As they learn to control their abilities, and use them to their advantage, their lives start to spin out of control, and their darker sides begin to take over.

With ‘The Devil Inside’ basically being the nail in the coffin for the “found-footage” genre, it’s a total surprise to see that in just about a month that not only can the genre die but be brought to life by two extremely different flicks with the same gimmick.

What really amazed me the most about this flick was the fact that it’s essentially not doing anything new but in a way it is. The element of gaining superpowers delves from ‘Unbreakable’, the idea of kids becoming superhero’s themselves delves from ‘Kick-Ass’, and the whole idea of the loser nerd becoming stronger than ever before is pretty evident in just about every superhero/inspirational story, but having this format is what sets it apart from all of the others.

The film steps right into showing us these characters for what and who they are, then getting their powers and having a whole bunch of fun doing things that actual normal kids with newly acquired powers like this would probably do. Things like messing around with toys in a Wal-Mart, or lifting up chick’s skirts, or even just trying to show off in front of everybody are all definitely things that teens would do (myself included) and it’s just great to see a superhero flick that goes for more of a realistic feel rather than over-exaggerated one. All of these things I’m talking about though are very fun to watch and have perfect special effects that aren’t flashy or ground-breaking by any means, they just seem real. This is even more true when these dudes realize that they can fly, which provides the best scenes of the whole film because of just how real, beautiful, and seamless they look and feel.

However, what really got me with this flick was that for every happy and fun moment in this flick, there was a darker moment just waiting to happen. The whole film has this real fun vibe to it the whole time, but you know that some crazy ish will happen soon and when it does, it works even more and shows you the negative consequences that can come out of a gift such as this. I don’t want to get into what starts to happen by the end of the flick because I don’t want to spoil anything but the way it all works itself into the film without feeling shoe-horned, had me very impressed. It’s just like the little old saying from Uncle Ben, “with great power, comes great responsibility”.

My only problem with this film is actually the last act though. I didn’t dislike the last act because it got very crazy and dark, because that’s actually something I very much enjoyed, it was more of the whole format itself. Throughout the whole film, the whole first-person camera view works because it gets you inside of these characters heads and makes you feel as if you are right there with them the whole time, however, it starts to get a little out-of-control when they start to show footage from many other devices such as surveillance cameras, news footage, helicopter shots, swiped iPhones, and many other random shots that I couldn’t really understand where they came from in the first place. This just seemed like a huge cheat for me and actually what took me out of the film by the last act, even though I understand that it had to be used to keep the story going. It also made me wonder, just who the hell would find all of the time and space to edit all of this footage together so perfectly?!?

The real heart of this film probably lies in the performances from the three leads, especially the main dude himself, Dane DeHaan as Andrew Detmer. The kid looks like Leonardo DiCaprio before he got huge and perfectly balances out the whole nerdy aspect of this kid but also the scary and dangerous side of him as well. You know that this kid is messed up in the head and has a lot going on, so it’s really, really hard for you to actually just sit there and watch as he comes closer and closer to just letting all hell break loose. DeHaan embodies what I think is more like Peter Parker mixed with Magneto, perfectly and I think that this kid may just have a bright future ahead of him.

Alex Russell plays Matt Garett, and looks more like James Franco and has the likability to him that matches him as well. This dude is just really cool the whole film but you know he’s a good guy as he constantly turns out to be the moral compass throughout the whole film and gives you this sunny-side, warm vibe every time he’s around. Michael B. Jordan is also great as Steve Montgomery, playing the role as the charismatic and cool kid that has a bright future. He’s good and it’s great to see a role that could have easily been terribly unlikable, go the right way for a dude that seems to smiling more and more as the film goes on. Whenever these guys are together, the film just worked wonders for me because you could totally feel that these guys were friends not just because of the superpowers but because they actually all had something in common together, even as crazy as it may seem. It makes me think about my high-school friendships that I have now and makes me wonder if we need powers to make us get closer. On second thought, nah. I’ll just stick to writing movie reviews and they can stick to whatever it is the hell that they do.

Consensus: Chronicle isn’t anything ground-breaking or new but the whole found-footage format works in its favor with a smart script, fast-paced vibe, and amazing performances by all three of these young dudes who do have bright futures in Hollywood, but then again, you never know.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

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35 comments

  1. I was originally excited to see this film, though after my friends saw it and hated it, I’ve been hesitant. Nice to hear another perspective. Don’t think I’ll end up seeing it in the theater. I might rent it at some point.

  2. Sounds like it could be fun, seems like what a live action Akira could be and seems a bit like comic book writer Brian Michael Bendis’ latest creator owned series, Brilliant. I’m not sure it’s worth more than a matinee for me though.

  3. Great review! You actually touched on the reason I disliked it…the story about the nerd taking his angst out on the world is so overdone, it’s a horrible cheesy and cheap archetype that doesn’t try very hard. Most actors will say the easiest emotion to capture is anger, and the whole movie is Andrew’s anger about his father and mother. I didn’t like it much at all, even though the action was pretty good. Check out my review and let me know what you think!
    http://burdseyeviews.com/2012/02/05/chronicle-2012/

  4. I wasn’t a big fan of this film. For me it had one bit of originality and it milked it dry. I became pretty predictable and the three teens began to feel like your run-of-the-mill big screen teenagers.

    It just didn’t work for me.

  5. Exactly. Very nice review. I agree with your grade and many of your points, as well. I really enjoyed the fact that these kids “Abused” their powers, too. But like you, I had some major issues with the “Found Footage”. Especially as you point out – in the third act!! Its not even so much the sucky camera style… Although, that plays in. It’s more about the inconsistent Point of View!!

  6. I agree with you that DeHaan did a wonderful job. When my friend and I left the film, we both remarked that we were reminded of DiCaprio from Basketball Diaries.

  7. DITTO! I was surprised by this film–I am not a fan of “found-footage” and thought this was a fresh approach because it played like a narrative. I too noted that DeHaan reminded me of a young DiCaprio (creepily so)! This was written by Max Landis (John Landis’son), who I believe will also have a bright future–check out my blog–I posted Max’s short film “The Death and Return of Superman”–it is brilliant and hilarious! Wonderful review!

  8. It’s funny that you mention the Leo Di Caprio thing. Toward the end of his first scene my girlfriend and I turned to each other and said “Leonardo DiCaprio!” at the same time. Scary resemblance.

  9. I agree with your post, the last act did step away from the narrative first person perspective.

    I think the movie went downhill after “the lightning scene” (if u follow me). I would still recommend it to others though!

  10. Good review! I agree with you about all of it. The excellent performances held the story together and even though the “found footage” style is getting pretty played-out, in my opinion, I thought it mostly worked in Chronicle.
    I really liked that these kids remained just kids after they discovered their supernatural power instead of deciding to either save or destroy the world. It felt real and the 3 lead actors had very natural, charismatic chemistry. Michael B. Jordan had a recurring role on the TV show Parenthood in which he out-acted a couple of the more seasoned actors. I look forward to seeing him in more and bigger roles. He and DeHaan are impressive young actors with great potential. Good to see some new talent in Hollywood!
    ~Nikki

  11. Your review echoed a lot of what I had to say, in the end though this is a fantastic hero’s journey which leads us to the more tragic side of the story. I loved watching the film unfold and seeing how the powers start to overtake one character who is just lost in his world.

  12. glad you thought highly of this. I enjoyed it myself. I found the camera work to be pretty appropriate. the camera was one of the characters for me. But you’re right, the multi-camera use in the last act does detract from that…adding in characters we didn’t know and didn’t see afterwards.

    nice review Dan

  13. Y’know, I also had a problem with the way they suddenly pulled video footage from a variety of different devices. If this had been set up earlier (like it cleverly was in George Romero’s Diary of the Dead), it may have worked. You’re right, when it’s thrown in during an action sequence just for coverage, it comes across as a cheat. Although you seem just as much a fan of the film, I think you may have enjoyed the dark places more than I. Not that I don’t like seeing the darkness, I just don’t think it came across as genuinely as the earlier scenes. The “emotional” apology Andrew gives to Steven at his grave was a misstep. I think his feelings of guilt and loss could have been shown far more subtly.

  14. Thanks for your comment Dan, totally digging your site! My favourite found footage film would probably be District 9. That’s one movie I’ll never forget.

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