Chronicle (20th Century Fox)
Rated PG-13 for intense action and violence, thematic material, some language, sexual content and teen drinking.
Starring Dane DeHaan, Michael B. Jordan, Alex Russell, Michael Kelly, Ashley Hinshaw, Anna Wood, Joe Vaz.
Written by Max Landis and Josh Trank.
Directed by Josh Trank.
Sometimes I suppose we all wish we had super powers. I also wonder how badly I'd mess up with them, or if I'd have enough restraint to keep from using them against people who annoy me. That's the premise for Chronicle, the story of three high school dudes who become exposed to some sort of radiation that turns them into supermen, or at least more powerful versions of themselves.
Dane DeHaan plays Andrew, a reclusive nerd who loves his video camera and uses it often to 'chronicle' his sad life (the entire film is shown from a documentary point of view, as if the entire experience was caught on camera). Andrew's troubles are many, including a sick mother, an abusive father (Michael Kelly) and a host of school bullies who make his life a living Hell. Andrew's more popular cousin Matt (Alex Russell) tries to help him break out of his shell by bringing him along to social events, and allows him to tag along with his friend Steve (Michael B. Jordan), a successful jock and student leader. During a rave one night, the three young men discover a nearby hole in the ground and climb inside to see what it is. Once inside, they are drawn to a glowing array of lights.
Flash forward days later (I guess the camera wasn't working), and the trio is showing off some strange new abilities, like being able to throw and curve a baseball in any direction they wish. They soon discover that their powers of telepathy are greater than they thought, and can be improved with practice. Once the boys develop their talents even more, they begin to use their powers to perform pranks in public. They also discover that they can use their telepathic powers to fly.
Matt and Steve seem to handle their powers just fine, but Andrew, who proves to be the more gifted of the trio, soon finds it difficult to resist using the power to harm those who are not so nice to him.
Andrew's twisted sense of justice is met with resistance from Matt and Steve, to the point where they begin to battle against each other, with tragic consequences. The film culminates in a telepathic battle between Andrew and Matt in downtown Seattle, as police are helpless against their powers.
Chronicle is an interesting movie with a few moments of decent action, humor and drama, but it's also full of a lot of cliches having to do with the all-too-familiar "with great power comes great responsibility" mantra associated with "super" movies. Chronicle's revenge factor is a little overdone in the philosophical sense, sort of like an overblown and dark version of Revenge of the Nerds.
Chronicle's documentary-styled narrative is more than a little silly, as if there just HAPPENED to be a camera framed on every important part of Andrew, Matt and Steve's lives (it's explained by having Andrew use his telepathic powers to have a camera hover and rolling at all times - makes me wonder where I could get such a super camera with enough data storage or endless tape like that). Either way, Chronicle's homage to Cloverfield and The Blair Witch Project is a little less than original by now.
Get a dang tripod, already.