CHRONICLE Review

I did not look kindly upon "Chronicle" when the first trailers came out. Not even four months after the terrible excuse for a "found footage" film that was "Apollo 18" comes another movie using the same technique on a different genre. Since "The Blair Witch Project" this idea of mock documentaries seemed to have been tailor made for the horror genre. It made a standard method the audience had grown tired with new again, by using its own unique way of telling a story that mounted the tension and scares in a way that never gave anything away but still made your blood run cold. It has evolved over the years giving us some winners (the Paranormal movies) and some that we would rather forget even existed (The aforementioned Apollo 18 and countless direct to DVD releases) . I can't say I didn't enjoy attempts like "Cloverfield" or even "The Last Exorcism" but again, they fit into the specific genre that can benefit from this type of technique. Could super hero movies? That is the question posed and the answer, surprisingly, is yes. The way in which "Chronicle" lures you in and sets up our three main characters is a refreshing and raw perspective on a tale we've seen countless times before. It has an exciting vibe from the moment these three guys discover what they can do. It is like watching home videos and putting yourself in their place because the powers they attain are what every little boy dreams about when they are little...and maybe still a bit now. I'm just saying, you try and watch this movie and not attempt to move stuff with your mind as you leave the theater.

Dane DeHaan as Andrew Detmer, Michael B. Jordan as Steve
Montgomery and Alex Russell as Matt Garretty in ``Chronicle.''
We are introduced to Andrew first. As played by Dane DeHaan he is a reclusive high school senior that for one reason or another decides to begin filming everything. He feels like an outcast and the rest of the kids at school give him no reason to think otherwise. Except for maybe his cousin Matt (Alex Russell) who Andrew will occasionally open up with he has no one he can call a friend. His mother is sick and dying while his father is an injured fireman you was injured on the job and now lives off the disability checks. With his abusive father and sick mother who clearly loves him, but has no strength to defend him we are introduced to a teen that feels no purpose in life and will no doubt relate to many kids in the audience that feel like an underdog everyday. The writers are smart to make this an opportunity for those who feel similar to Andrew a way to live through him and feel a sense of redemption while also teaching that age old lesson of with great power, comes great responsibility. That to let the emotion get the better of you and to act out will only end in creating more of a barrier between yourself and those you yearn to be closest with. Besides doubling as a kind of after school special though, "Chronicle" feels fresh and layers its fast paced story by getting to the point quickly and never over-developing any one theme or idea. Things are only hinted at by the time we move to the next scene and it works, especially with the found footage technique. Though this was slightly distracting at first, once the boys start to better control their abilities they are able to make the camera float behind them which lends a more cinematic feel to the piece. It is a gimmick, no doubt, but director Josh Trank uses it to his advantage and builds the exciting, personal tone with big-blockbuster scale.

Andrew lets his dark side take over his new found abilities.
When Andrew is dragged to a party with Matt they along with class favorite Steve (Michael B. Jordan) come across some type of alien (maybe?) artifact buried deep in the ground. The early scenes after their encounter with the source of their abilities are the best as each reacts with a genuine and honest sense of humor and shock. It is nothing short of fun, joy even. The narrative doesn't hit the standard script points but instead builds our involvement with the characters through a series of adventures in which they test out their abilities. Whether it be learning to control things with your mind or fly we see it all from the exuberant mind of three young leads who aren't at first concerned with the ramifications of what these powers might cause but are instead just pumped because they can seemingly do whatever they please. The possibilities are endless and it is when they do come to realize this that Andrew's mind begins to flourish into those that have humiliated and those that continue to do so because they have no idea what he is now capable of. This unavoidable resolution can be seen coming from the opening shot of the film, but my only disappointment in "Chronicle" is how quick it descends into standard, mash-up action that doesn't feel as personal, as meaningful as those earlier experiments. It reaches a point where we forget that there was ever a good time in Andrews life, that things almost turned around before they took a turn and tailspin into the irretrievable. I provides a strong case for a legit drama but instead of focusing more intently on the characters that he has so well established, Tank opts for Mayhem and delivers what will no doubt please the masses when he could have given them something closer to revolutionary.

Matt is forced to make some tough decisions when Andrew
uses his powers for his own, hateful purposes.
Though I was not going into "Chronicle" with high hopes it is always a pleasant surprise when a film not only exceeds expectations but becomes a film you enjoy and want to watch again. I actually wanted there to be more to the film, it is one that would make no sense to have a sequel, but where i wouldn't mind paying to see it because I became that invested in the characters and want to know more about their lives. They could even do a prequel where the kids didn't have powers and I would feel at least a little more complete. I did like that this was brief in its execution though, any film that chooses this technique can only tests its limits with an audience for so long, yet I feel I would have preferred a little more insight and a little less rushed conclusion. In the climax of the film we see the result of years of pressure and hate spew out of a young man in the form of rage backed by unbelievable ability. It is at once exhilarating but also frightening in that those who are unable to handle the role they've been dealt deal with it in the most destructive of ways. Ultimately self-destructive. "Chronicle" shows hints of greatness with real emotion such as this displayed throughout, but can't help but be peer-pressured into building to a point where the end result is that of every other super hero movie on the market. You proved me wrong "Chronicle" but then you let me down. Let's hope this was only an origin story and you have more coming our way, only then will I possibly forgive you.