‘Chronicle’ defies expectations

Rating: ★★★★★ 

“Chronicle” is easily one of the best films to make use of the often gimmicky found-footage genre. Bringing unexpected depth and power to a genre that is often difficult to take seriously, “Chronicle” takes its place right alongside the Norwegian “Trolljegeren” (Troll Hunter) as a film that causes one to reevaluate what can be accomplished within such a format.

“Chronicle” tells the story of three teens from completely different social circles; the anti-social and abused Andrew (Dane DeHaan), his cousin Matt (Alex Russell) who studies philosophy and considers himself superior to others, and ultra popular and talented president of the student body Steve (Michael B. Jordan).

These three unlikely fellows discover a mysterious artifact which grants them the super power of telekinesis. The film then chronicles their rise and fall as they quickly discover the effect such power can have on a person’s psyche.

Unlike in most films, “Chronicle” characters all feel like real people. Their decisions, some heroic and some villainous, are clearly motivated. Their dialogue and actions are entirely relatable and make them seem like real teenagers.

Perhaps best of all, how each one reacts to receiving their powers is realistically how most of us would react, using them for frivolous and silly reasons at first, experimenting and pushing the limit, until someone makes a mistake and everything turns sour.

The atmosphere and plot of “Chronicle” is somewhat reminiscent of Katsuhiro Otomo’s “Akira,” blended with coming of age films such as “The Breakfast Club.”

It has been compared to “Kick Ass,” another recent film about superheroes with a hard realism spin. The comparison however is unwarranted.

While “Kick Ass” is a superhero movie with some grounding in reality, “Chronicle” is a film almost completely grounded in reality, without any of the trappings of a typical super hero movie except supernatural powers.

The way that “Chronicle” manages to achieve such complex characters and powerful atmosphere is made all the more amazing by the lack of experience of everyone involved. It is the directorial debut of Josh Trank, establishing himself as a skilled director to definitely keep an eye out for in the future.

The lead actors all have some experience with television and low budget films, but are still relatively unknown enough to let the audience easily connect them to their characters.

For a film made on a measly $15 million budget, visual effects in “Chronicle” still manage to hold their own quite well.

The plot is best experienced without knowing too much about it going into the film, so this reviewer encourages readers to avoid the trailers available for it and instead simply go and watch the movie. Expect only a powerful and riveting coming of age tale mixed with just a dash of the supernatural.

All around, “Chronicle” exceeds all expectations for not just a superhero film, but stands above most others released so far this year. Don’t let its PG-13 rating fool you, “Chronicle” is a powerful and dark film not to be taken lightly. That being said, it is an absolute must-see.

Image © 2012 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation