Friday, 3 February 2012


I saw Chronicle the day before its official release at an advanced screening so hadn’t heard any reviews beforehand. As a result I didn’t know what to expect. When I was joined in the cinema by 15 or so loud teenagers, playing on their phones and laughing at popcorn, my expectations suddenly lowered, however I enjoyed Chronicle very much indeed.

The film, written by 26 year old Max Landis, son of John Landis, is about three American High School students who discover a hole in the ground in the woods near their home. Inside the hole they find a glowing ‘thing’ which somehow gives them super powers including telekinesis and flight. The story then follows the boys as they discover the extent of their powers and how they can and should use them.

The boys discuss the use of their powers

The three main characters are all played well and have defined and interesting characteristics. One is a geeky, awkward kid who has lots of problems at home. He is played by Dane DeHaan who convincingly transforms from a socially awkward teen into a powerful but unbalanced man. His arc is what the film is built around. He is joined by Alex Russell, playing DeHaan’s cousin, a smart, semi-outsider with a puncheon for spouting philosophy. The third member of the group is the High School jock and popular kid, played by Michael B. Jordan, seen in early series of The Wire. Together the three of them seem to be having fun with the characters and are all believable in their roles.

The film uses the now fairly common found footage technique that has been so popular is The Blair Witch Project and more recently Cloverfield and the Paranormal Activity movies. Chronicle introduces a twist on the technique though by using multiple cameras. While a lot of the film comes from the boys own video camera, we also see CCTV footage and film from other minor characters. While I thought this worked well for the most part and was an interesting, fresh approach, I felt that one character in particular was only in the movie because she used a video camera for her blog. Towards the end of the film, one of the main characters also steals lots of cameras and phones so that we are able to see a particular set piece from many different angles. I felt this was lazy and obviously only in the film for this reason. It also broke somewhat from the rules the film had set itself.

Not everyone can handle super powers

Some of the best scenes in the film come when the boys venture above the clouds. The GCI is superb and the scene looks beautiful. Other effects looked very natural and realistic which made a change from the often shiny, computer game like effects seen in similar films. Another of the films strengths is its ability to switch genres quickly and unsuspectingly. What stars off as a fun, sometimes funny look at some kids playing with new found abilities quickly shifts to a very dark place. The final third of the film turns a mirror on society, suggesting a parallel between the story and what we have seen at Columbine and similar events that have involved children with personal and social problems.

This is a film which one should watch without preconceived ideas and I look forward to seeing what debut director Josh Trank comes back to us with next.


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