Starring Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan
Directed by Josh Trank
The science fiction film Chronicle has attracted a lot of attention from the media both here and overseas. In fact it has been so popular in Australia that it went straight to the top of the box office when it was released.
As a journalist who believes that there is nowhere near a decent amount of science fiction movies (particularly relating to superpowers) I was overjoyed to see that a movie dealing with the transition from ordinary person to superhero - and the journey that comes with it - was so well received.
As such I was very excited to see what the movie held in store, especially since one of the powers that the main characters receive is that of flight, which I have always been fascinated with. It is with a heavy heart, however, that I must confess that Chronicle was not at all what I hoped for.
Without giving too much of the plot away, this movie in a nutshell is about Andrew (DeHann), a teenage boy with severe difficulties at both home and school, who decides to start recording his everyday life. When his cousin Matt (Russel) stumbles upon an unusual substance at a party, his life, his cousin’s and his friend Steve's (Jordan) are changed forever, eventually leading to a climactic showdown.
This brings me to my first point of conflict with the way in which this particular film is written. It seems a little bit clichéd to make the main character that obtains the powers be your stereotypical high school loser.
This is a trope that has been used many a time in many a superhero movie, and before the movie got even that in depth it got me thinking, "How many times has this been done?"
Perhaps even more clichéd is the way in which Andrew, previously the subject of constant bullying and teasing, is now much admired by his peers for his seemingly flawless magic and sleight-of-hand skills.
This not only reinforces the message to the audience that popularity is subjective and depends on what you can give to other people instead of people liking you for who you are, it also plays on the much-used idea that superheroes are always popular.
It should also be noted that Chronicle does contain some very graphic violence. Some material could be potentially triggering for some viewers, as in a few scenes the alcoholic father is physically abusive to the son, which can be really hard to watch. It is, however, a credit to DeHann that he is able to portray his character with great accuracy in order to evoke emotions within his audience.
The plot in itself is somewhat slow and at times obvious That being said, Chronicle does have some redeeming features.
One of these features, and sets it apart from the rest of the pack is cinematographer Matthew Jensen's decision to shoot the entire film from the main character’s handheld camera. The use of the handheld, which at times can be confusing and hard to follow, gives the movie a potential edge over its competition in that it is a new and novel approach, and makes the audience feel like they are actually in the film.
Chronicle also makes good use of its amazing special effects and stunts. The flight scenes in particular are very well shot, and one scene is reminiscent of the famous Magneto police car scene in the first movie of the X-men trilogy. There are also some really laugh out loud moments that will make you smile, but overall it just feels like there could have been more done to live up to the movie's full potential.
Bottom line: the special effects are definitely worth checking out, and the plot is OK, but don’t be surprised if you come out feeling like something was missing.
2.5 out of 5
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