Chad's Chronicle Review
It wasn't that long ago that the notion of a movie shot through eyes of a camera within the movie just seemed ridiculous. As more and more movies pioneered this perspective, audiences had become more accustomed to it, and this style is usually one of those that you will either hate or love. Chronicle decides to use this camera style as well, but expands it a bit, reminding us that there's always room for improvement. Chronicle takes advantage of not just one or two cameras, but instead shows the vantage point of nearly all cameras introduced, be it a more traditional film camera, or something a bit simpler like the camera on a phone. They decided to keep the same quality regardless of what it is filmed on though, but it's still an interesting advancement that allows more angles of each scene.
Chronicle centers around three high school seniors, each with their own stories. You have Andrew (Dane DeHaan), the character that introduces the camera and films the majority of the movie. It's quickly revealed that he has an abusive father, a sickly mother, and honestly, not too happy of a life overall. His cousin Matt (Alex Russell) isn't too close to him, but the family relation keeps him in play in trying to help Andrew enjoy himself a bit more. The popular jock Steve (Michael B. Jordan), has a bright future ahead of him, with aspirations to be a politician. He sympathizes with Andrew and his home situation, with a problem of his own in his mother's infidelity and father's lack of response. The characters are introduced one by one, and their true selves are revealed as the film progresses. With Andrew as the cameraman, however, his situation gets much more screen time and a little more importance is placed on it as the movie builds up to its climax.
The teens fates all become intertwined one fateful evening. Matt persuades Andrew to come to a rave with him, and reluctantly he does. Not being much of a party-goer, he hides behind the safety of his video camera, documenting what all is going on. Unfortunately someone isn't too happy that his girlfriend is being filmed, and Andrew gets publicly embarrassed. We later find him outside of the rave, sobbing with his camera when Steve walks up, saying that Matt had found something that needs to be recorded. Eventually Andrew agrees to follow him, and while they're making their way through the woods Andrew is surprised to find that Steve actually remembers a fair amount about him through their brief encounters before. Upon arrival to a clearing, we see Matt standing over a large hole in the ground. A strange noise is pulsating from within, and Steve and Matt jump down and start making their way through. Suddenly realizing his ride out of there is making his way through a strange tunnel, Andrew joins in and documents the short journey to a large crystal object adorning the end of the tunnel, complete with a blue glow and a strange sound that interferes with the camera. They get closer, and after a little interaction, the blue switches to a menacing red while Steve's nose begins to bleed. Matt is seen being thrust backward and the camera cuts out.
When it comes back on, the boys all appear to be fine, in the backyard playing a little catch with a baseball. As the scene progresses, they show, to their excitement, some new found abilities akin to telekinesis. This scene is followed by the trio sitting around a pile of Legos, where a pecking order of who has the most control over their power is established. Andrew is quickly revealed as a natural, while Steve fairs somewhat well, followed by Matt who obviously needs practice. They try to return to the hole during daylight, but are informed by local park rangers that the area has been sealed off due to it being unstable, with the hole now being filled with the most likely collapsed tunnel also being unreachable. As the movie progresses, demonstrations of their increasingly stronger powers are given, ranging from moving objects of nearly any size, to even using it on themselves to give them the ability of flight. As this is going on, Andrew's insecurities are threaded into the story, and it really isn't hard to see that something bad is going to happen.
When it finally happens, boy does it happen. This was one of the more memorable scenes in the trailer, where a nice time suddenly turns ugly. When the three are driving, another driver pulls up behind them and continually honks his horn. Andrew decides to deal with it and causes the vehicle to careen off a cliff and into a nearby lake. They rescue the man, but not before realizing that they need to set some limits. Andrew's insecurities crop up again, being afraid that what bond he had slowly established with Matt and Steve had been quickly severed by that mistake. This fear of Andrew's is suppressed and flares up again throughout the rest of the movie, leading up to more than one altercation and eventually the climax.
The acting overall was fairly good, especially for such a young cast. They captured the feel that the home video perspective needed to give to make the movie believable, and fortunately the telekinesis powers could be taken advantage of in moving the camera to capture any angle necessary, so it still gave the feel of a real studio movie at the same time. This almost gave the actors a sense of versatility in their acting. There wasn't anything that gave the impression of a future star in the making, but I can still see a member or two of the group getting a prominent role in a few future films. Similarly, the sound and special effects were well done, but nothing too spectacular.
The backdrop of the movie was the typical bullied kid starts to make a name for himself with the help of some new found power before things go awry, but the main feature of the movie are the abilities themselves, and the balance between the two is very well done. The notion of how the powers are acquired isn't exactly original, what with some foreign, glowing rock giving powers to the main characters that discover it. So with two aspects that aren't in any way new to movies, how does Chronicle captivate an audience? Pretty darn well actually, mainly with the demonstration of the powers. Entertaining the thought of having such powers is something that will never get old, and the flexible way in which the powers were showcased as the movie goes on will keep most anyone entertained.
The blu-ray doesn't contain anything too flashy, just the usual audio and subtitles options (English, Spanish, and French for the former, English and Spanish for the latter). A solitary deleted scene is given, as well as some of the unpolished effects that show how some of the scenes were done, such as the scene where the trio are flying in the clouds before being interrupted by a plane. A "Live Extras" option is also given, though exploring it provides a few extras and tid-bits about other upcoming or recently released movies, with this section being consistently updated with live content every so often. Outside of that, you have a choice between the Director's Cut and the Theatrical Version to choose from. The special features are a bit disappointing to be frank.
Chronicle will provide you with a solid movie experience, rehashing a few of the predictable and overused setups through the eyes of the people while it is happening. The directing was well done, and although the pacing and action won't put you on the edge of your seat, it will satisfy you in regards to content and execution. I'd recommend it to any fan of this style of filming, as well as anyone who would enjoy a flick centered around teens with metaphysical abilities. I give it a solid 7/10.