When three high school friends discover a meteor, they find that they are developing superpowers. So what are three high school students going to do with their new found abilities? Have fun with it, of course!
Chronicle is a weird amalgamation of film conventions that, on paper, sounds like it shouldn’t work. High school party film (Project X). Found footage film (Blair Witch Project). Superhero origin story (Spider-Man, Captain America: The First Avenger, etc.). Strangely, all these things do work in this film, thanks to strong performances, believable special effects, a smarter-than-it-should-be script, and tightly focused direction.
The film never strays from it’s three main characters. Andrew (Dane DeHaan), an outsider who is not only bullied at school but also by his alcoholic father, Matt (Alex Russell), Andrew’s cousin and only friend prior to the meteor, and Steve (Michael B. Jordan), a friend of Matt’s who becomes best friends with Andrew. With the focus being on these three characters and Andrew in particular, there is a nice amount of characterization and the performances of these three could have broken this film. Dane DeHaan as Andrew in particular, with the looks of a young Leonardo Di Caprio, pulls his character into the realm of believability and through a tough story arc.
The script was very smart. Written by Max Landis, with a story by Landis and director Josh Trank, Chronicle manages to avoid falling into any of the stereotypical archetypes of these sorts of films. The dialog comes across as realistic and not overly dramatic, and the basic story arc of the film is believable.
While the found footage genre has been run into the ground over the last 13 years since The Blair Witch Project was released, Josh Trank has not only breathed new life into this struggling genre but also the superhero origin film. See here for my rant that should have waited until I saw this. I have a feeling that first time film director Trank is a filmmaker to watch. He deftly avoids many of the pitfalls (but not all) of these 2 genres.
Overall, Chronicle was a pleasant surprise of a film. Very smart, entertaining and strangely touching, Chronicle is a film from a new voice in the world of film, a voice that should be listened to.
On a side note, I must give a shout out to Goodrich Quality Theaters in Portage, Indiana. This is where I saw this film and was completely blown away by the quality. I will be returning soon.
***1/2 out of ****