Back in 2000, director Bryan Singer (THE USUAL SUSPECTS) kick started the superhero film genre with the amazing X-MEN. After that movie released, the flood gates opened and the new superhero genre was born. Sure we had a few cool superhero movies before X-MEN in the form of a few Batman movies, a couple of cool Superman movies, and the under appreciated Blade films, but those were few and far between and never really started any kind of trend. Since 2000 we have been treated to some of the coolest movies ever in this new superhero genre such as the stunning SPIDER-MAN trilogy, the new BATMAN series, WATCHMEN, KICK-ASS, HANCOCK, and a crap ton of movies featuring members of THE AVENGERS. The list could go on. Fast forward to present day and we come to another awesome entry in this wonderful genre titled CHRONICLE.
CHRONICLE is unique in that is meshes the “Found Footage” and “Superhero” genre together giving birth to one kick ass and entertaining film. CHRONICLE tells the tale of a group of teens who stumble upon a mysterious cave that grants them super human powers. While it seems as a fun gift at first, these teens soon discover that these powers can and will get out of control. Their friendship and moral compass are put to the test as they struggle with their new powers. The whole experience is put on tape due to one of the teens “chronicling” his life events due to an abusive and drunk father. Once his powers are discovered, he decides to keep filming his experiences. What we get in the end is a satisfying new entry in the superhero genre that tells a captivating story about friendship and power while introducing audiences to a group of new and talented actors. Besides that, we are treated to some awe inspiring moments of action as these teens learn about their new abilities and their lives spiral out of control.
CHRONICLE is directed by newcomer Josh Trank who also wrote the script alongside Max Landis. The story here is smart, well structured and surprisingly sophisticated. Anyone who saw the trailer may assume that CHRONICLE is just a cheesy action flick using the found footage gimmick. This could not be farther from the truth. While I am not a huge fan of the “found footage” trend (except for THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and CLOVERFIELD), I will admit that this style of storytelling works wonderfully creating something truly unique. I especially enjoyed that one of the teens learns how to levitate the camera to film his life. This really frees up all the characters and audiences do not have to witness the constant shaky camera that usually plagues these types of films. It was a great idea and let you witness all the characters equally. I also really enjoyed the pacing in CHRONICLE and it gave audiences enough time to meet these characters and get an idea of who they are before they gain their powers. It is interesting to see how these teens lives are changed once they become near gods and how those new powers affect their relationship.
I often enjoy movies where none of the actors are known and CHRONICLE is a shining example of why. The three main leads here are newcomers Dan DeHann (TRUE BLOOD) as Andrew, Alex Russell (WASTED ON THE YOUNG) as Matt, and Michael B. Jordan (RED TAILS) as Steve. Everything these characters say and do is convincing and they are all great talents. These characters could have easily come off as ultra cheesy, but these talents do a wonderful job and own their roles. DeHann as Andrew easily gives the most powerful performance here often switching between the antagonist and protagonist role. He is a loose canon who struggles most with his new found powers. The power and energy his gives to this role is something to see and I hope his talents are put to use in the future. Russell’s character Matt is the cousin to Andrew and plays the nice guy very well. Without spoiling anything I will say that I really enjoyed where they took this character. And last but not least we have Jordan as Steve who is the definition of popular at school. He has a real cool screen presence and is a good opposite to Andrew who is the school outcast. The chemistry these three have is genuine and they all do a fantastic job playing off one another.
Now that you know there is much more to CHRONICLE than meets the eye, let’s get to the stuff that hooked me in the first place, the action! I admit when I saw the trailer I just wanted to see what kind of action a movie like this could deliver. In short, it rocks! The style and atmosphere in CHRONICLE is kick ass and the action works well on both an emotional level and for pure entertainment. I really was not prepared to be emotionally invested in these characters but I really was. I assume the budget for this film was somewhat low but it rarely shows and never distracts. The powers these characters harness are so fun to watch. They levitate objects, have a sweet force energy they can emit, and can even fly. The powers all look great and the flying sequences are totally convincing. I really enjoyed watching someone fly while controlling a camcorder. Cool stuff. The action definitely heats up as the movie progresses and audiences are treated to a ton of amazing sequences and the last 20 min alone is worth the price of admission. As an action movie junkie and someone who loves superhero movies I can safely say this movie does not disappoint.
CHRONICLE is a great film that successfully combines the “found footage” and “superhero” genre into one fresh and exciting experience. The story is surprisingly deep, the themes are strong, and the pacing is spot on with never a dull or boring moment. All the actors involved do a wonderful job being convincing while avoiding the “cheese” that usually comes with a movie of this ilk. Be prepared to connect with these characters and invest a bit more emotion than you may have expected. On top of all that, CHRONICLE displays a handful of amazing action sequences that never disappoint. This one comes highly recommended.
Final Score: 8.5 out of 10