Andrew Detmer has been a social outcast for some time and comes from a damaged home. While his cousin, Matt Garetty, has been around to spend some time with him, their personalities clash and Matt struggles with Andrew’s distancing of himself. At a barn party, Andrew is pulled aside by another student, Steve Montgomery. Meeting up with Matt, the three guys explore a crater and come across a large glowing object. As they mysteriously survived the chaos that occurred in the crater, they soon discover their new special powers. Resembling the experience of telekinesis, the three guys become inseparable as they continue to explore the depths of their powers. They start in their backyard, hidden from any exposure. Soon they decide to take their talents in public and try to covertly affect the world around them, but as their powers continue to grow, the potential for danger follows.
Starring: Dane DeHaan (Andrew Detmer), Alex Russell (Matt Garetty), Michael B. Jordan (Steve Montgomery), Michael Kelly (Richard Detmer), Ashley Hinshaw (Casey Letter), Bo Petersen (Karen Detmer), Anna Wood (Monica)
In a sci-fi drama that involves the chronicling of three young men and their exploration with their growing power, the screen time is dominated by those three individuals. Similar to the experience of high school, each of the three guys represents three very different elements of the teenage dramatic environment. Andrew is played by Dane DeHaan and exhibits the outcast side of the student body. DeHaan maintains a nearly consistent level of angst and anger, except for the few scenes during the power discovery where he breaks free and simply has fun. While the source of his anger (his stepdad played by Michael Kelly) and his depression (his mother played by Bo Petersen) may be clear, his transformation from his content state to his destructive rage appears to be a bit extreme. Alex Russell, who plays Matt, is more of the cool guy who denies his influence of cool society. He has a pity element in his relationship with DeHaan but he also highlights his coolness challenge in his relationship with Casey Letter, played by Ashley Hinshaw. Michael B. Jordan definitely is the high society within the school and discusses his aspirations of political success. He is both interested in the exploration of his powers and concerned about being cautious of exposure and corruption.
Josh Trank’s exploration of the darker side of superpowers is a bit more original than other supernatural films in the past decade. Using teenagers creates another interesting aspect because of the randomness and immaturity of the teenage boy mind. For Matt and Steve, their exploration of their newfound powers has a mischievousness to it, but it never truly goes beyond small pranks. When Andrew takes the game too far, it is Matt and Steve that agree to setting up rules to prevent both exposure and danger for those around them. Andrew’s case is definitely a bit more complicated. With his sick mother and abusive father, his outcast status stems from feeling lost in a confusing world. When the powers give him a strength that never existed, he is tempted by the ability to use it. Beliefs about the evolutionary chain of dominance and killing without regrets cause Andrew to push himself to the limit.
The style of the film is similar to that of Cloverfield but with just a bit less of the shaky camera. Nearly the entire film is either shown through one of Andrew’s cameras, Casey’s camera or stationary cameras in different buildings. Since it mostly follows Andrew, he is able to control is power and use it to hold the camera with his mind, putting himself in front of his filming and take the camera to all sorts of unusual places. Where Cloverfield put the viewer in the middle of a war with aliens (but did so in a way that just made the viewer feel nauseous), Chronicle does more to explore the evolution of their powers, including up into the clouds after they discover their ability to fly. The only time the camera angle was more traditional and outside of the characters’ control is near the end of the film during the final conflict. It was still a little nauseating during some of the more intense scenes.
Chronicle is definitely a unique film that explores that dark side of supernatural ability. While the characters are a little stereotypical for their high school personas, they are still entertaining.
Dan’s Rating: 3.5/5