Chronicle (M)

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Review byMatthew Turner2/02/2012

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 83 mins

Inventively directed, cleverly written and superbly acted fantasy thriller that brilliantly mashes up the superhero, found footage and high school genres to terrifically entertaining effect.

What's it all about?
Directed by Josh Trank and written by Max Landis (son of John), Chronicle stars Dane DeHaan as Andrew, a lonely, bullied teenager, who has taken to recording everything that happens in his life, thereby giving the film its found footage conceit. One night his popular cousin Matt (Alex Russell) and sporty would-be student politician Steve (Michael B. Jordan) ask him to come with them and film inside a mysterious hole where the three of them each gain superhuman telekinetic powers after touching a giant crystal they find underground.

Initially, the boys use their powers for Jackass-style pranks, such as scaring a girl with a flying teddy bear or blowing wind up cheerleaders' skirts at school. However, Andrew's problematic home life (terminally ill mother, alcoholic father) and continued outcast status at school gradually drive him off the rails and he soon starts to abuse his powers, creating a rift between the three friends.

The Good
As with Cloverfield, the filmmakers have been savvy enough to cast relative unknowns in the key roles, so you have no idea whether any of them will make it to the final reel. DeHaan is particularly good as the gradually unravelling Andrew and there's strong support from both Russell and Jordan, though Ashley Hinshaw (as Matt's would-be girlfriend who, conveniently, also films everything she sees) is rather underused (she's also had at least one scene cut from the film, according to the trailer).

The script is extremely clever, seamlessly mashing up the superhero, high school and found footage genres to create something that feels original, even as it gleefully acknowledges other films and sources. In particular, there's a brilliantly witty visual reference to Spider-Man that seems entirely appropriate, as the key message of Spider-Man - “With great power comes great responsibility” - echoes loud and clear all the way through Chronicle.

The Great
The special effects are excellent throughout and Trank orchestrates some genuinely thrilling set-pieces, most notably when the trio discover that they can fly. There's also a huge amount of humour in the film, especially in the first half.

In addition, the film is brimming with clever touches, such as Andrew learning to control the camera telekinetically, which allows the camera to move around the characters without breaking the found footage conceit. That said, if the film has a flaw, it's only that the found footage idea doesn't really work during the action-packed finale, which is a slight distraction but doesn't spoil the overall result.

Worth seeing?
Chronicle is a hugely entertaining fantasy thriller with a superb script and terrific special effects. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

Chronicle (M)
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Content updated: 23/02/2019 22:17

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