chronicle | movie review

Posted on September 21, 2012

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If you ask someone if they’ve seen any good superhero movies lately, the list would probably consist of The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers, or even latest outing for Spidey – It’s highly unlikely they’ll say ‘Chronicle’. This isn’t because Chronicle is a bad movie – but because they probably haven’t seen it, or possibly even heard of it!

Chronicle is a “home video” / “found footage” [whatever you want to call it] movie. This style of nausea inducing filmmaking was popularised by The Blair Witch Project, but it had been around for nearly two decades prior to the quite original “there’s something in the woods” horror story, though it hadn’t been done with any real success – except maybe for the disturbing Man Bites Dog, a documentary team following a serial killer! The Blair Witch opened up the floodgates and we’ve been getting more and more shaky-cam movies ever since – some awful [Paranormal Activity], some great [Troll Hunter]. Director Josh Trank has done something a little different here though – and it makes for a very interesting film.

Chronicle tells the story of three high school friends. The movies main protagonist is Andrew, who has taken to taping, “chronicling”, his life, which includes his dying mother and abusive alcoholic father and the bullying he’s subjected to at high school. He’s a very troubled soul.

Andrew hangs out with his cousin Matt and his friend, Steve. One night they stumble upon a cave emanating a strange sound and decide to investigate… and something happens.
The trio develop the power of telekinesis – the ability to move stuff with your mind. It’s interesting watching these guys getting used to their new found “superpower”, having a laugh with them as teenagers would do. There are cool scenes where they freak out a kid by making a teddy in a shop float towards her, and move someone’s parked car while they’re in a supermarket, but gradually these guys realise that so much more is possible with what they can now do, especially as their powers seem to be growing stronger. They agree to lay down rules about the use of their powers, such as not hurting anyone with them. A rule which the troubled Andrew struggles with, and he begins to plan and exact revenge on anyone who has hurt him, while his buddies try desperately to prevent him from going to the dark side!

There are aspects about Chronicle that really work well. Such as the way in which – because of Andrew’s telekinesis – the camera is made to sometimes float about, detached from a user, which makes for some great shots. The special are spot on, and the build up to the final act is really exciting, but this is really more about the guys. The conversations and arguments over the use and abuse of their powers between the three friends are really well done. They are having to take responsibility for their actions but also for how they are now going to conduct themselves from this point forward. I also liked the fact that the origins of the alien item that causes these changes isn’t explored, simply affect it has on these young men.

As with most superhero movies Chronicle is really a morality tale. It shows vividly how bitterness and anger can destroy a person, how these things fester away inside, and that even though our situation and circumstances may change – if we keep holding on to these feelings they will continue to be a destructive power in our lives.

“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” 
[Matthew ch11v28]

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