Film Review: Chronicle

| 2 February , 2012 | Reply

Directed by: Josh Trank
Starring: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Gordon
Sassi\’s Star Rating: 3.5/5

Amongst the relentless parade of caped crusaders and spandex wearing superheroes audiences have endured over the past few years stands Chronicle, an origin film of a completely different persuasion.

Three average teenage boys come across a suspicious chasm hidden in the Seattle woodlands. Filled with liquid courage after partying at a nearby rave, the trio decide to investigate a little further and descend into the suspicious void. Neither they, nor we, are sure exactly what paranormal phenomenon they discover deep under the ground; but when they emerge from the cave, it is with the power of telekinesis.

Instead of rushing off to fight crime, or save the world, these three do exactly what you would expect from hormone ridden, underdeveloped teenage boys with the recently developed power to move foreign objects with their mind. They don\’t use their powers for good, or for evil; but they do use them to mess around.

Andrew, Matt, and Steven start by floating pieces of Lego through the air, and handless-ly hurtling baseballs at one another. This soon turns to foolish pranks such as frightening Wal-Mart shoppers and blowing girl\’s skirts up at school. Matt (Alex Russell) theorises that their ability is like a muscle, and the more they work out, the stronger they will grow. A sick feeling settles in your stomach with those words, as you try to imagine how this motley crew of mindless teens would cope with unworldly power. When Andrew (Dane DeHaan) angrily swipes a tailgating car off the road, you\’re already hurtling over the edge with them towards their downfall.

Andrew is the biggest worry of the three. The protagonist, we see more of his story, and what we see is unsettling. Having purchased an old camera, Andrew continuously records the ins and outs of his life; from the constant pain of his dying mother (Bo Peterson) to the violent abuse from his drunken father (Michael Kelly) and the vicious bullying from the popular kids at school.

It is through Andrew\’s camera that Chronicle is told and the found footage format further sets this film apart from the slick superhero blockbusters of this season. We see what he does through the jerky lens of an old handheld. Smart though at times forced secondary cameras are introduced as the film tears towards a sickening crescendo. In an age of growing obsession with self documentation and publication, Chronicle speaks in an engaging way to teenage audiences.

Chronicle is not as light-hearted as the trailers might lead you to believe. Andrew intimately records his experience of what life is like for those who are continuously trodden upon. Trapped and frustrated Andrew\’s anger grows. And when Andrew loses control of his anger, he loses control of his power.

With solid action, interesting (if sometimes contentious) social commentary, and stimulating filmmaking Chronicle is a peck above the rest in the superpower pack.

Chronicle is in cinemas now.


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