Synopsis: Andrew, Matt, and Steve are recognizable teens, each with a distinctive personality and each facing relatable challenges that come with being in high school, forming new friendships, and exploring new facets of their ever-changing lives. Theyâre imperfect, awkward, and a little reckless.
They could be you.
Like so many of us, theyâre obsessed with chronicling their lives, however mundane â or in their case, however extraordinary. For Andrew, Matt and Steve have stumbled upon something beyond their â or anyoneâs â understanding. Their discovery leads them to acquire powerful telekinetic abilities; in graphic novel parlance, they have superpowers.
Theyâre now capable of, well, almost anything. They can move objects just by thinking about them, crush cars through force of will. They learn to flyâ¦the ultimate wish fulfillment.
Then things get dark.
What would you do if it happened to you? What would you be capable of?
Release Date: February 3, 2012 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Horror, Science Fiction
Chronicle takes advantage of two of the most popular sub-genres in filmmaking today, the found-footage film and the superhero epic. It does things differently, as the found-footage sub-genre is usually reserved for horror movies, or films about alien invasions and such. The superhero sub-genre is always based on a well-known character, from an adaptation of a graphic novel, comic book, or the like. Chronicle is about three ordinary teenage boys; Andrew is the reclusive loner with an alcoholic father who abuses him and a dying mother; His cousin Matt is the anti-socialite, a guy who gave up on the high school scene in order to read high brow literature; and then there is the quintessential popular kid in Steve–he has tons of friends, plays sports, is highly social, and has a girlfriend. The three of them are not close friends–to begin with. It is only when they happen upon a strange hole in the ground, that leads deep into a tunnel where they find a mysterious crystal-like formation that the three boys become the best of friends–all because they suddenly have the ability to make things move with their minds, and their powers are growing stronger each day.
The entire film is shown from the found-footage perspective. The first scene is of Andrew setting up his camera to record his bedroom door, as his father screams from the other side to unlock it and let him inside. Andrew’s choice to document his life is an uneventful one; the boy who eats lunch alone at the bleachers or gets picked on in the halls of his school is not something anyone would want to watch one day. As luck would have it, Andrew has his camera when he attends a party with Matt and the discovery is made. Flash forward three weeks later and the camera becomes a character in itself for Chronicle as the documenter of the three boys’ transitions from ordinary to extraordinary.
Thus Chronicle becomes an origin story for superheroes. It is impressive to a point, even with the less-than stellar acting abilities of the cast and the dizzying camera work, because Chronicle is in fact interesting. These boys are the stereotypical high school cliches and then suddenly they have the ability to fly. It is any small-boy/girl’s fantasy come to life on screen, and Chronicle knows exactly the beats it must hit in the story to make audiences happy. The largest being of course the transformation of one character into the anti-hero, the nemesis. As Chronicle holds the greatest potential in creating a new superhero story from the ground up on screen for the common masses, those who do not read comic books and have no stake in how, say, Captain America is portrayed on screen, it is amazing. Then the film falters in the final act. It gets too wrapped up in the need to find finality in the story, instead of leaving it open to further interpretation and growth. The end is a whirlwind of ridiculous stunts to wow the viewer, and it takes far too many liberties in order to keep the found-footage motif going–and the reality of the film being taken from the POV of the camera is lost. Had Chronicle stayed true to being an origin story, building upon itself to an epic conclusion that keeps the audience begging for more it would have been far more pleasing. Instead it disappoints in the end, and while possibilities still exist for the Chronicle world, they are going to be hindered by the mistakes made in the original origin story.
From a visual effects standpoint Chronicle looks good. The initial work with the powers is telekinesis grounded, lending much screen time to floating things in the air and moving them from place to place. It is when the boys grow their powers that things get more interesting, and visually appealing–the aforementioned is very magic show. Andrew, Matt, and Steve learn to fly and they spend time up in the clouds, hovering above ground. These shots look great visually, as do those of them actually flying in the air. This is all being caught on a home camera, and by an amateur, so things are not perfect–these shots lack finesse and style, as they should. This is one of the positive’s about how Chronicle looks, it is staked in realness, and even when the CGI wizards are hard at work they do their best to trick the audience into thinking it is not a polished creation made on a computer. The final battle, with breaking glass and crippling crashes, will appease the most discerning viewer. For those familiar with Superhero films, you will find a great many things borrowed in Chronicle–the bouncing off of the sides of buildings being the most obvious.
A found-footage film is never going to look pretty, have perfectly framed shots, or specific camera angles–the whole point to them is the feel of being amateur. Chronicle is by far one of the best “amateur” found-footage films. The angles are consistently off, some of the footage a bit out of focus, the edits are rough and jump through time at will, and the overall effect of watching the film is dizzying. That is the problem. There is no reason why Chronicle should be dizzying, to the point of inducing a headache, but it is and does. It has nothing to do with the characters flying around or performing stunts, these shots are surprisingly the most static in the entire film. It is the way the film is shot and then cut together that makes it incredibly hard to focus, leaving the eye to wander, to have to adjust to uncommon angling and awkward set-ups to the point where it hurts. For those accustomed to the amateur videographer style it will/may come without issue, but Chronicle should be a steadier film. It really should not be a found-footage film at all, because it cheats far too often to honestly be called entirely “found-footage.” And considering many of the stunts that happen, the camera would have been lost.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Josh Trank
- Producer(s): Max Landis
- Screenwriter(s): Dane DeHaan (Andrew Detmer)Alex Russell (Matt Garetty)Michael B. Jordan (Steve Montgomery)
- Story: Michael Kelly (Richard Detmer)
- Cast: Ashley Hinshaw (Casey Letter)Anna Wood (Monica)Rudi Malcolm (Wayne) Luke Tyler (Sean)Armand Aucamp (Austin)Elliot GreenbergMatthew JensenStephen Altman
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: UKUSA