Directed by Josh Trank.
Starring Dane DeHaan, Michael B. Jordan and Alex Russell.
Three teens develop super powers after stumbling upon a mysterious cave, but they soon come to learn the downside of their amazing gift.
What initially put me off Chronicle was the video camera footage. The whole film is shown through the lens of Andrew’s (DeHaan) video camera. Despite the novelty of this approach to cinematography, I think after Paranormal Activity and Cloverfield, this has started to wear off. Chronicle looked like a clone of Cloverfield, and I’m not particularly fond of that film, thus I began this movie with low expectations. I was happily proven wrong.
The movie starts off pretty slowly, but as the events surrounding the three main characters unfold, I became utterly involved in the plot. The video camera style of filming lent itself greatly to the story and the feelings of isolation and alienation surrounding Dane DeHaan’s character, Andrew, who he played sublimely. Whilst the overt superhero aspect of the film is exciting and appealing to most audiences, the underlying psychological deconstruction of Andrew gives Chronicle much greater depth and humanity, something which this film does better than the likes of Cloverfield, 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow. The audience invests in Andrew and watches, often uncomfortably, as his mental stability unfolds and causes the climactic scenes of the movie. The camerawork adds to this, making this part of the movie poignant and touching.
Elsewhere, there are the obvious gratuitous special effects, which were ultimately done well and depict the arc of the story suitably. I was particularly impressed with the flying scenes. What I didn’t like about this movie, however, was the somewhat clichéd background story to Andrew’s character. The writers spent so long writing Andrew in such a way that the audience would emotionally invest in him, and then ruined it by giving him a dying mother and an alcoholic father. Meanwhile, Michael B. Jordan plays his character Steve to a tee, giving the right blend of sarcastic humour and caring humanity to make him the most likeable and enjoyable character of the film. Matt, played by Alex Russell and the third in the trio of main characters, is sometimes confusing. I can’t understand whether he’s supposed to be selfish or selfless. Most of his actions throughout the film point to the former, but by the end of the story my perceptions were reversed and Matt turned out to be the hero, something which didn’t overly fit with the writing, because nowhere near as much attention was given to Matt through the story.
Apart from the non-cohesive character writing and plot flaws, which I suppose at times were necessary, I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I’m not a huge fan of action movies or disaster movies, but the final scenes of Chronicle were, even for me, spectacular, and well worth the build-up. I enjoyed the characters and the well-crafted mix of humour and trauma.