Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘Chronicle’ Review: A Fresh Take on the Teenage Superhero

I originally had plans to see The Woman in Black on Friday, but I opted for the found-footage flick Chronicle because I heard nothing but praise for young director Josh Trank’s film.

I have to say, I’ve never been a fan of the found-footage direction style that became all the new craze because of movies like, The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield. However with Chronicle, I loved watching the camera work and the story move forward through the eyes of the villain. In fact, Chronicle is one of the few superhero stories shown through the eyes of the lead bad guy. One that can relate is last year’s X-Men: First Class, where most of the story is told though the rebellious Magneto’s perspective. It’s a brilliant and fresh take on the superhero story line and worked perfectly for this film.

As Chronicle begins, we are introduced to the film’s protagonist Andrew (Dane DeHaan), a loner who’s bullied at school and at home by his alcoholic father (Michael Kelly). He primarily hangs out with his one friend Matt (Alex Russell) and that’s only because they’re cousins. Andrew decides to buy a camera to document his life on tape and he takes us through the motions of his daily routine.

One night, Matt persuades Andrew to come to a house party, where they run into popular classmate Steve (Michael B. Jordan). The pair, along with Steve venture into the woods and come across a mysterious hole that they crawl into. They’re exposed to some sort of alien power ball that grants them telekinetic powers.

With their new-found abilities, the trio plays pranks on unsuspecting victims and they gradually end up growing stronger with time. Matt lays down some ground rules when using their powers, but Andrew has other ideas on how to use them for his benefit.

What separates Chronicle from other found-footage films is that it makes sense for Andrew to carry around his camera and record his supernatural powers on tape. As we come to the middle of the film, the camera goes from being a hand-held to simply floating in the air which mirrors the thought that Andrew can control everything around him. Andrew uses the camera as of way of avoided people and really, he sees it as best friend.

It may start to appear false for some viewers as we come to the final act of the film, as the camera is still in use during the big blow-up. But combining the one camera with security cameras and another blogger’s handheld forces the audience to connect with Andrew on a different level as we see him transform from outcast to supervillain.

The story may not be completely original and the CGI may not be all that great, but for a low budget thriller I was still impressed Trank’s directing style and the talented young cast who completed the film.

Chronicle puts a clever twist on the superhero origin tale that mainstream directors and scriptwriters should probably take note from.

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