I loved ‘Chronicle‘ when it was in the theaters, and this is that rare film that plays even better on blu-ray at home, and this edition has some pretty decent extras. It’s well worth picking up and watching alone or with your family since there’s some good moral lessons in there!
Yeah, the plot sounds like you’ve heard it before. Kid who’s a bully magnet, views life through a camera…almost like ‘American Beauty’ but with the found footage genre we’ve all grown to detest. Enter Max Landis and Josh Trank, who smartly turn the found footage and superhero genre around and look at it from a more realistic viewpoint. I can guarantee you that you’ll be pleasantly surprised by this smaller budget sci-fi action suspense film. ‘Chronicle‘ will remind you of those weird thoughts we all had as kids (and many times still in adulthood) of wreaking a little havoc on people who’ve pissed you off or just look like they could use some havoc.
Andrew Detmer’s (Dane DeHaan) life just sucks, and he seems predestined to spend his life in perpetual fear and abuse. This is the type of kid you’d expect to wind up bringing the gun to school, but instead he focuses on capturing his daily life injustices on film which further alienates him since many people hate being filmed without their permission. This is a smart way to bring in the found footage, and it really works for this film.
Andrew has the cool cousin Matt (Alex Russell) who gets him out into the world, and one night, the two joined by Steve (Michael B. Jordan), discover a massive black hole in the ground. Doing as any smart teen boy, they immediately plunge into the dark hole to see what’s inside. They get way more than they bargained for, and a blue star looking object gives them some pretty cool powers.
One thing I liked was that Landis didn’t feel the need to give backstory to what the blue light thing was. Sometimes real life works like that where we don’t have an answer for everything. Not knowing where this came from keeps the mystery more real feeling. This film does allow you to have the suspension of belief, but you enjoy it the entire time, unlike ‘Cloverfield’ or ‘Apollo 18′, you were so distracted by the inane story, it was frustrating.
Once the boys discover they have some cool powers, they do exactly what a typical teen would do. They want to play and seek revenge. At least in Andrew’s case, you’re rooting for him to kick the crap out of his abusive father. The first half of the very quick 83 minute film is fun and thrilling as the boys mess with people for fun, but then things shift pretty quickly after that into some dark territory. The film reminded me slightly of ‘The Craft’ where the power was easy to seduce you to the dark side and Andrew is easy prey for that, and his low self esteem demons quickly take over. The boys wind up turning on each other as you would expect, but the story never feels forced or pulls you out of the reverie of the moment. This is a film where you feel like you’re caught up in the action rather than just watching a movie.
You may also be reminded of ‘District 9‘, but that’s because South Africa was used in place of Seattle. For a tight budget film, you can see that every dollar was put up the screen. Where many filmmakers would turn the story of bullying into a social message pounded over the audiences head, Trank and Landis have created characters that you can easily relate to and identify with, the moral aspect carries much more weight because of its subtlety. The makers of ‘The Ides Of March‘ could have learned a little from these guys.
Best Movies Ever Rating: A
Chronicle is a smart film that packs quite a sweet punch for such a small budget. It’s a fast paced movie with a cast that inhabits their roles and makes you believe their well drawn out characters.
Blu-Ray Extras: B+ They include the following:
Unrated Director’s Cut
Deleted Scene – Matt and Casey in Kitchen
Chronicle Soundtrack Info
DVD + Digital Copy