PaulRom Reviews: CHRONICLE
Josh Trank's directorial debut has been critically and commercially successful upon release, but does the found footage/superhero movie live up to its hype? Hit the jump for my take.
Note: the following review has some details concerning the film's plot. While not very spoilerific, stop reading if you don't want to know anything about the film if you haven't seen it.
Michael B. Jordan
1 hr. 23 min.
Three high school friends gain the superhuman abilities of telekinesis, flight, and invulnerability after making an incredible discovery in a mysterious crater. Soon, though, they find their lives spinning out of control and their bond tested as one of them, Andrew Detmer, embraces his darker side.
Over the past few years, found footage films have become their own genre. Popularized in 2007 and 2008, respectively, by Paranormal Activity and Cloverfield, a slew of films using discovered footage have been released. I never was into the found footage genre, personally. Cloverfield was pretty good (though overrated, IMO), while last year’s Apollo 18 was absolutely awful. However, I was interested in a little film called Chronicle, which is Josh Trank’s directorial debut. The premise was very interesting, with three teenagers discovering their super powers and using them in various occasions. The film was released earlier this year to critical acclaim, and did surprisingly well at the box office. Does it deserve its success?
At many moments in the movie, I forgot that Chronicle was a $15 mil. budget production (let alone a found footage movie). The cinematography is fantastic and the script is well written. I also kept forgetting that this was Trank’s first film as a director; he balances the character development and action sequences almost perfectly. The visual effects and action sequences are also very good. From crushing a car with a fist to moving random objects, it’s impressive to see them so well done in such a low budget production. Even the flying scenes looked realistic enough.
Acting wise, Chronicle definitely delivers. Dane DeHaan is excellent as Andrew. With the character’s suffering from an abusive father, a mother dying of cancer and consistently being bullied at school, it’s hard not to feel for him. Alex Russell and Michael B. Jordan are also very good as Matt and Steve, respectively; while you tend not to feel for them as much as you do Andrew (who is the main focus of the story), Trank does a wonderful job at making the two likable. The three have great chemistry amongst themselves, and it definitely helps to make their relationships believable. The building up of those relationships was executed very, very successfully.
The movie has been compared to the anime film Akira, which also features super powered teenagers. I haven’t seen the movie, so I can’t really compare the two beyond the fact that both have teenagers who have super powers. Otherwise, Chronicle feels rather original. Additionally, the film rarely resorts to corny jokes, with the humor that is present rather good.
Concerning flaws, Chronicle definitely a few. Primarily the much criticized final act, in which one of the teenagers are killed after being corrupted. (Another one of the three is also killed off around the middle of the film) Especially since a sequel is in the works, killing off two of the three primary characters is a rather bad move. While emotional, the second death scene felt a bit forced and unnecessary (it would’ve been better, IMO, if that character was redeemed at the end). Also, while the found footage format worked a good deal of the time, I don’t think this was the right film to use it (hopefully the sequel goes a different route). It’s virtually both a strong and a weak point, but it rarely affects the overall story.
Overall, Chronicle is not like other films in its genre. Featuring plenty of heart, character development and gripping action scenes, this is a film that should not be missed. It’s also by far one of the best found footage films to date (if not the best). I can’t wait to see what Trank does next in his career (I hope he directs the Fantastic Four reboot for 20th Century Fox). I would personally prefer if a sequel wasn’t made, as the movie works perfectly as a stand alone project. But if it is, let’s hope that it’ll be as good as the original.
Chronicle is out on DVD and Blu-Ray May 15th. Click here to pre-order your copy.
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