Chronicle Directed by: Josh Trank Cast: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan Running Time: 1 hr 23 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: February 3, 2012
PLOT: A trio of high school seniors are given super powers after they come across a mysterious hole in the ground.
WHO'S IT FOR?: Male teenagers are Chronicle's primary target, but like any decent multiplex movie, this one has a strong reach beyond its immediate audience. This is for the same type of crowd who entrusted a movie like Cloverfield with their ignorance, and were rewarded with jolting surprises in return.
EXPECTATIONS: I had no expectations with the oddly titled Chronicle, but I had a lot of fears. Would it be like Kick-Ass with super powers? Would it be another cheap and plain sh*tty fake documentary movie like last month's The Devil Inside? Would I just be watching d-bags play with their super powers for 90 minutes?
Dane DeHaan as Andrew Detmer: The most intense character of Chronicle is Andrew, who is thrown around into a wide variety of emotions. In the beginning of the movie, his mumbling low voice is almost unbearably teenage. As the story progresses, we see different sides of him, even his goofy and indirect impression of a whiny young Leonardo DiCaprio. Score: 6
Alex Russell as Matt Garrety: This young man quotes Jung and Schopenhauer in an effort to distance himself from all of his classmates, and yet with Garrety's genuine embodiment we like him. We can see the "innocence" in his idiotic teenage shenanigans, and we like hanging with him when participating in the movie's superpower pranks. Score: 5
Michael B. Jordan as Steve Montgomery: Another example of a character flirting with d-bag potential can be found in Steve. He's introduced as the movie's hot shot, but is brought down to earth when instilled with his powers. He's a cocky character that you don't mind being around, especially since he earnestly cares about his two unlikely friends. Score: 5
TALKING: Chronicle achieves a natural depiction of its teenagers by giving them corny dialogue like "Today was the best day of my life," (as Matt emotionally tells his friends). During the characters' fraternal tomfoolery, they gain a few laughs with boyish statements like, "I'm having a face period" (when talking about their power-induced bloody noses). Score: 6
SIGHTS: Throughout Chronicle the special effects are "cute" more than they are impressive. Phony floating objects like potato chips or Legos especially clue towards the falseness; Chronicle is better when its not trying to show off with mini-budget trickery. In capturing the events, Chronicle makes use of a large amount of different cameras, which provides unique perspective to certain events (especially in the third act). Chronicle uses its physics in a nifty way to allow Andrew to record himself and others with a floating camera. Score: 6
SOUNDS: The Chronicle soundtrack uses a heavy serving of hip groups like M83 and Strfkr, while throwing in a song like "Ziggy Stardust" by David Bowie for a little credible measure. Score: 5
BEST SCENE: After a couple of surprising moments in the second act, the third act of Chronicle explodes with a bigger budget and a larger scale to display teenage angst.
ENDING: After a final battle, Chronicle humbles us with the return of its iffy special effects, and no immediate promise for a sequel.
QUESTIONS: Where did this movie come from? Was it made cheaply at first, and then some investors threw money at the third act? Did screenwriter Max Landis learn anything particularly special from his director dad John Landis?
REWATCHABILITY: There's no way that a second viewing could compare to a primary experience with Chronicle, unless you came upon a case of amnesia. Even in a second round, I imagine this movie would hold some entertaining value - it's not just a movie of the moment.
With last summer's Super 8, writer/director/mystery box lover J.J Abrams paid tribute to Steven Spielberg, and basked in the giddy potential of that which is unexplained. Now we have our first tribute to Abrams, as written by screenwriters who were clearly taking notes during Abrams' mysterious monster movie Cloverfield.
Chronicle is made with the same organic mysticism of Cloverfield, where it's more satisfying if you don't ask questions before or during. Should you ask certain questions after, you'll begin to start widening a few holes the movie tries to completely pass by.
This is the type of script that's very picky about what answers it wants to give audience members, including those relating to curiosities about the story's bigger points. Chronicle even uses this ambiguity to cover up some of its larger logic problems. For example, there's the big question of, "Who edited together all of this footage seen in the movie?" Not important! Moving on!
The surprising Chronicle works well within the perimeters of its found footage style, and even the expectations of a movie such as this coming out early in the movie year. It's a movie that rises from its humble beginnings of a single camera and whiny protagonist to a collection of satisfying bus-sized surprises no one could see coming.
FINAL SCORE: 6/10