Chronicle is a 2012 film directed by Josh Trank starring Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell and Michael B. Jordan. It is based on a story by both Josh Trank and writer Max Landis. This is the type of film that is mostly recorded as a first person with old model cameras (2004) and camcorders rather than the professional cinematic cameras that weigh a lot and are highly expensive. The movie is not exactly a superhero one but it deals with superpowers and that is always exciting! Don’t let the first person view throw you off! This independent film really succeeded in creating an enjoyable story with the theme of superpowers.
!!! SPOILERS AHEAD !!!
I had seen Project Almanac before this and when I saw the trailer for Chronicle I knew it was gonna be the same type, with the handheld first person cameras. Project Almanac was entertaining with its time traveling theme. I love movies that deal with time traveling (if done properly) and superpowers.
Chronicle’s story is about three high school seniors that become best friends after all three getting telekinesis powers from a mysterious underground light source. The only superpower here is telekinesis and all three share it, unlike in typical superhero films where each person has a unique ability. I really liked that idea because we get to see how three different people handle the same power. You have Andrew, who gets both bullied at school and at home by his father. Andrew doesn’t really fit in with everyone else, is shy and lacks self confidence. Matt is Andrew’s cousin who helps Andrew fit in by inviting him to a party to meet people. Steve is a goodhearted, smart and popular guy which puts him in the election for class senior president. Steve always gives his best at everything he does.
There isn’t any explanation to the underground crystal-like light structure that is the source of the boys’ telekinesis powers. It could be government related and it probably is since the day after their encounter with it, the area is sealed off by agents and the hole in the underground is sunk in. Notice how the entrance down into the hole has stairs. Also I like how no government or military became involved. I was actually waiting for some military officers to come and take them away or something similar.
The first person view didn’t bother me at all. It was more stable than other movies that have it. The special effects were incredibly good for non-cinematic cameras! I was surprised how visually entertaining they were despite being filmed with camcorders, older cameras and security cameras. My favorite special effects scene was when they fly for the first time. Now, it has nothing to do with Man of Steel’s epic flying scene but because of the personal first person mode, I enjoyed it much more than Superman. I even got goosebumps watching because it looked so real! Even though we know it’s fake, it didn’t reach the point where it mattered or where you could tell there was a green screen. The idea of playing American Football up in the sky was hilarious. What a fantastic scene! For me, I would be happy with either flight or teleportation, just so I could travel the world whenever I wanted for as long as I wanted.
Andrew’s character development was unfortunate but understandable and all to blame was his father. A drunk ex-fireman on disability barely making enough for his wife’s medicine. But even so, there’s no point in being an asshole to his son by bullying him. Andrew wasn’t a mean kid so I think him turning to the “dark side” was a bit exaggerated but then again his father kept insulting and pushing him.
There wasn’t any others that knew about their secret or that they shared it with others until the ending, which I enjoyed because there are usually always people who find out or those that can’t keep the secret and put their lives in danger. It was much more personal, only between these three.
It’s annoying to watch stubborn people wreck havoc when they could just accept things, and in this case, fly away and live your own life. But not Andrew. He had to go full ape sh*t and tear the city and fight his only friend. Stopping the bullets in the middle of the square was pretty cool, but as much as Matt tried to convince him to stop, he did the right thing. I’m glad Matt could escape and live his life, and the ending with him taking Andrew’s camera to Tibet, recording a last message for Andrew and leaving the camera there was satisfactory. I had thought that he would be there to bury Andrew’s urn like in The Bucket List but leaving his camera there for someone else to find out about their story was just as good.
The music throughout the film was just right and the end credits song “This Bright Flash” by M83 was a perfect fit for the end of this fantastic film!
This film started okay and it just got better and better and I really enjoyed watching it.
Fun fact: A sequel is already in production! Alex Russell will return as Matt and a super-villain will emerge.
Thank you for reading my review!
– Nick Andersen