Imagine while walking through a deserted field you came across a hole in the earth. Then imagine when you climbed into this hole, there was a florescent rock. What would you do? You would touch it, of course, and then you would have amazing telekinetic powers. That is the premise of “Chronicle,” a film documented by 3 high school teenagers who find the rock…in a hole…and it gives them telekinetic powers. So then the question would be…what would you do with telekinetic powers? Would you use them for good or evil? That is where this film treads not so lightly and it’s this this question that pushes it into a darker area.
Andrew, Matt & Steve all go to the same high school but aren’t really friends. Andrew is an outcast, living with his alcoholic father and mother who is on her deathbed. Matt is good-looking & popular (but doesn’t want to be) and Steve is running for president of his class and is a football player. Andrew & Matt are cousins and so Matt befriends Andrew even though he is nerdy and a social misfit. At a party, the 3 of them head out into the Washington woods and find the hole that is the home of this unusual glowing rock. Once they touch it, they find they are each able to control matter with their minds. As you can imagine, as teenage boys, they go through a prankster stage where they use their abilities (quite humorously, in fact) to move cars to other parking spots, scaring little kids at the local toy store and basically doing things for laughs. But once they learn how to use their powers to fly, Andrew starts using his in more sinister ways. What happens from there is where the film gets heavy and a little more adult.
I’m torn over this film because I really, really wanted to love it. In the past, I’ve enjoyed the “1st person” experience where the movie is being shot by one of the characters in the film (in this case, it’s Andrew’s camera that catches most of the action). “Cloverfield” and “The Blair Witch Project” are 2 movies that I thought did an excellent job using that style to make the movie move at an exciting clip. The problem with the way it’s used in this movie is that there’s too much going on for someone to have their camera rolling ALL the time. Although Andrew carries it with him, how many people do you know who would take a rather large digital camera to school, to parties, etc and have it rolling 90% of the time? Eventually Andrew starts to learn how to film himself and the others while hovering the camera with his telekinesis while he does other things. I don’t know why…but that bothers me. And then once the film gets darker towards the end, the director starts using other media that captures Andrew’s exploits with street cameras, cell phone video clips and so on. This seems like a cop out to me. I’m thinking this would have been a much better film had they just shot it like a regular movie. That way you could see everything that was taking place without it being locked into the first person perspective. There were a lot of times where they had to come up with creative ways to place the camera so you see what’s happening and for me, it was annoying.
That being said, I didn’t hate “Chronicle” at all. It’s actually a very good movie that makes you feel for the 3 teens and you hope it all works out for the best for them. You get to enjoy the camaraderie that they have after they discover that they have this great power and they find out that they are bonded together like brothers, each knowing when one is in distress at any given time. All of the actors do a great job in their roles with Dane DeHaan channeling his inner Leonardo DeCaprio as Andrew. Alex Russell and Michael Jordan (no…not THAT Michael Jordan) also are superb in their roles. Michael Kelly is Andrew’s drunken father and he also does a good job being the instigator of Andrew’s rage.
All in all, this is a great matinee flick that caters to those who like films such as “Cloverfield” or “I Am Number 4” (I enjoyed both). I liked that it was shot in Seattle and used downtown locations throughout (especially the Space Needle) and was a relatively short hour & 20 minutes or so.
Overall Rating: B