Movie Review: Chronicle [M]

Director : Josh Trank
Starring : Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B Jordan
Running Time : 84 minutes
Release Date : 2 February 2012

‘Boys will be boys’

Three high school friends Andrew (DeHaan), Matt (Russell, an up and coming Aussie actor) and Steve (Jordan) discover something extraordinary and then develop superpowers. As their powers evolve and increase in strength, the boys try to deal with it all by developing a set of rules. But as they begin to embrace the darker sides of not only their new powers but themselves, their friendships and lives slowly begin to unravel.

This is the latest in the ‘first person, hand held camera’ or ‘found footage’ (as it is sometimes dubbed) movie genre that has sprung to life over the last decade or so, beginning arguably with the very creepy Blair Witch Project. However, it is more Cloverfield than Paranormal Activity with it’s mystery object and big city panorama.

The real genius of this movie comes in its camera work. It is always told from the first person but as one of the powers Andrew develops is the ability to levitate objects, the camera can and does shoot very steadily and from angles that would otherwise be impossible. The characters can either play to the camera or each other and both are equally believable due to this power of levitation. True genius!!

Each of the boys is a completely different personality and this has a huge impact on the way they utilise their new superpowers. They are each tied to the other through, I assume, the object, even as they learn to cope and navigate through their new reality.

Andrew is a broken boy from a broken home. His father is a physically abusive alcoholic and his mother is terminally ill. He has much to be angry about. Anger, or maybe just any intense emotion, only enhances the powers.

Matt, Andrew’s cousin, is a good guy and caretaker. He has not been close to Andrew for a long time but wishes this was not the case. His love of Andrew falters but is genuine.

Steve is the local hero. The guy running for class president with a career in politics firmly in his sights. He is charming with the gift of the gab. He is also the first boy to learn to fly. Oh yes…they can fly. Not the lame second level of the building flying but the real mile high dodging planes flying. I am as jealous as I could be!

At the start, the boys use their powers for silly teenage things but as they grow more confident and lose a little control of themselves and their emotions, the film takes a darker turn. It is not sinister or evil, more a ‘what if’ kind of thing. What if you could stop the bullies? What if you could make your father stop hitting you……for good.

If you like this new ‘footage found’ genre, you will enjoy this movie. Some complain that the moving camera makes them dizzy but I have never been bothered by it. There are long parts of the movie where there is no music, just the background sounds you would hear in everyday life. They seem to be amplified and this adds to the intensity of the movie.

The acting is good and the characters are believable and likable. Even when things go bad, you can never quite blame the boys for what is happening because, put in the same circumstances, you would probably do just as they did.

It is well written and it’s limited budget feel (but I don’t think it’s a feel I think they really did have a limited budget) makes it all the more realistic. The CGI effects are basic but effective and the use of superpowers is never unrealistic. Now that may seem like an oxymoron but let me explain. The use of powers is kept within context for teenage boys who have no desire to dominate the world for the own evil purposes. They react as most teenagers with these powers would….no satellites or asteroids are stopped in their tracks.

This is a movie for sci fi geeks. Or anyone who has secretly wished they could fly and wondered what they would do if they could. So I guess that means this is a movie for most of us.

I would still love some superpowers. Just one would be so cool…

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