‘Chronicle’ Review

Published 2 years ago by , Updated February 7th, 2012 at 8:28 pm,

Dane DeHaan in Chronicle Movie Review Chronicle Review

Screen Rant’s Ben Kendrick reviews Chronicle

Found-footage films have become an increasingly bankable and a low risk prospect for movie studios. Audiences continue to fill theater seats in search of the next compelling found-footage franchise – even if a film doesn’t sport high production values or recognizable actors. That said, the genre has typically enjoyed its biggest successes with horror fans – and is mostly untested in other film categories.

With  Chronicle, first time feature-film director Josh Trank tries to deliver compelling character drama and entertaining onscreen action – as well as prove that there’s more opportunity in the genre than just spooky jump scares.

As moviegoers become more selective about the never-ending flood of superhero and found-footage “me too” projects available to them, it would be easy to write-off Chronicle as just another trendy cash-grab. However, after a string of less-than-satisfying faux “documentaries” (such as The Devil Inside) and high profile, but ultimately uninspired hero flicks (such as Green Lantern), it’s safe to say that Chronicle is poised to genuinely surprise a lot of moviegoers with intriguing characters, cool visuals, and an increasingly gripping central storyline.

Following the exploits of average teens Andrew (Dane DeHaan), Steve (Michael B. Jordan), and Matt (Alex Russell), Chronicle begins when the friends encounter a mysterious entity that – after afflicting them with days of bloody noses – results in the trio developing advanced telekinetic abilities. The boys quickly discover that their newfound super powers can be manipulated, honed, and strengthened – resulting in the ability to control larger objects, as well as mimic other traditional enhanced “abilities,” such as flight and invulnerability. However, as their powers increase, so does their potential to unintentionally (or intentionally) cause harm to others. Ultimately, the friends agree to keep their abilities in check, but it’s a delicate balance that one member of the group – the proverbial loner who has suffered physical and emotional abuse at home and at school – isn’t as ready to accept.

Michael B Jordan Dane DeHaan Alex Russell Chronicle Chronicle Review

Dane DeHaan, Michael B. Jordan, and Alex Russell in 'Chronicle'

While there’s no shortage of awkward ways in which the events of Chronicle are caught on film (especially in the last act, where none of the primary characters have time to carry actual cameras around), some of the implementations represent a major step up for the genre. Early on, Andrew perfects the ability to move the camera with his telekinetic powers – resulting in much more dynamic and fluid cinematography that subsequently allows all the characters to be in various scenes, instead of always having one hiding behind the camera. While that method obviously can’t be applied to other found-footage films, it doesn’t detract from the creativity of the Chronicle filmmakers, who were especially methodical in delivering both an entertaining and unique movie that’s made better because of its found-footage format.

Another area where the film excels above similar genre fare is the trio of super powered protagonists. Chronicle doesn’t try to strong-arm audiences from action sequence to action sequence, and actually takes the time to build a cohesive character journey for its characters. Instead of flat and shallow protagonists, Andrew, Steve, and Matt each have interesting interpersonal dynamics and arcs that flourish as they explore both their abilities and their newly formed friendships. While the succeeding events might be somewhat familiar to comic book movie regulars, the characters offer plenty of entertaining and believable moments – even after the movie starts to take a dark turn.

Watching the guys discover and revel in their abilities never gets old, and the “rules” of the film open up a lot of fresh opportunities as the friends grow stronger and more capable – resulting in increasingly interesting super-power sequences, as well as a lot of fun nods to traditional superhero source material. That said, while the movie presents plenty of cool visuals, it is Chronicle‘s dedication to its characters and their experiences that truly elevates the experience. The end result is a surprisingly charming and humorous ride for the majority of the proceedings.

Chronicle Superhero Movie Chronicle Review

Matt Garetty (Alex Russell) Takes Flight

As mentioned, the overarching narrative arc is also pretty dark and touches on some disturbing elements that could be challenging for some moviegoers expecting a more whimsical superhero film. Andrew endures a number of realistic bullying and abuse scenarios – which are not at all understated. While it’s unfair to criticize a PG-13 film for being “dark,” events in the third act do come fast and furious, representing a pretty sharp shift in tone that some viewers might not feel is entirely “earned” – even if the proceedings are believable and successfully grounded in the larger storyline.

Though some of the character moments might prove to be too intense for younger superhero enthusiasts, Chronicle offers an intense and riveting finale that is on par with plenty of bigger budget action films. The use of camera phones, security footage, and police surveillance tapes might seem like a hokey way to showcase the final climactic moments of the film, but surprisingly that doesn’t actually distract from the strength or success of the final set piece. There’s no doubt that Chronicle will raise the bar for visual spectacle in future found-footage movies.

Director Josh Trank, paired with a cast of likable actors, has definitely proved potential naysayers wrong – Chronicle is not a genre mash-up cash grab. Due to some truly creative thinking and intriguing cinematography, the filmmaking team has shown that “found-footage” doesn’t have to be relegated to thin story lines and flat characters who do nothing more than move audiences from jump scare to jump scare. Chronicle isn’t just a unique found-footage movie or superior superhero film, it’s a truly enjoyable blend of the best each genre has to offer.

If you’re still on the fence about Chronicle, check out the trailer below:

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Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick - and let us know what you thought of the film below:

Chronicle is rated PG-13 for intense action and violence, thematic material, some language, sexual content and teen drinking. Now playing in theaters.

Our Rating:

4 out of 5
(Excellent)

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TAGS: chronicle

126 Comments

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  1. I really enjoyed this movie. No way it is 5/5 stars, but absolutely 3.5/5 stars. I liked the characters and felt entertained the whole movie. Yes, most will know how it ends before it’s over, but it is still a fun movie to watch.

    • Very, very, very junkie-Marihuano-loco argument. What kind of sick mind would think that super-powers could be given to highly stupid retards like the ones of the movie ? Not even by accident I think. The biggest mistake: If I could be able to manage physical objects at an atomic level, If I could handle gravity on my will, If I would have my mother so sick and suffuring, what kind of person with super-powers could have the brain so small not to try to cure his own mother ?? Also, there are several ‘gay-tendence’ scenes (like the guy with the camera crying on the grass) that I think that are not necessary for the film. Such a waste of resources this movie is. In the hands of the direction of a great Director this could have been an inspirational and kick-ass movie. I’m really sorry.

      • Um, you really must not have watched the movie. Because I definitely believe that the whole incident that led up to the climax of the movie was Andrew stealing the money to get his mother’s medicine to help her. He used his powers to rob the store. Andrew was crying on the grass because he was being bullied, which plays a huge part in the movie.

        I don’t think you watched the movie.

        • I’m not sure watching it (or at least, watching it more carefully) would have helped him anyway…I don’t think he would’ve gotten it (the film seems a bit advanced for him).

          • I thought personal attacks werent allowed. Or do you get special exemption for some reason?

  2. Just saw Chronicle yesterday and I must say that it is one of the best, if not the best superhero film I have seen. The chemistry between the characters is brilliant and the action at the end is superb.

  3. I liked that it was different than other superhero movies, but it’s not really a superHERO movie anyway. The found-footage style was neat and seemed more high-def than others of that style. Although the movie had some good unique little parts, overall it was rather dull. The script was sub-par and it was sooo predictable. By the end of the movie I felt like I had seen it twice. I couldn’t help but feel like Andrew was made to be too much like Anakin when Obi-Wan confronts him at the end of episode 3. I’d give this movie a 3.5/5 because it wasn’t too long and its take on the found-footage style was pretty cool.

  4. I liked that it was different than other superhero movies, but it’s not really a superHERO movie anyway. The found-footage style was neat and seemed more high-def than others of that style. Although the movie had some good unique little parts, overall it was rather dull. The script was sub-par and it was sooo predictable. By the end of the movie I felt like I had seen it twice. I’d give this movie a 3.5/5 because it wasn’t too long and its take on the found-footage style was pretty cool.

  5. I personally didn’t like the movie. Maybe it was because the camera was too shaky for me. I saw it last night and had to leave due to getting nauseous. I’m still nauseous. My friend who saw it with me is texting me and currently puking. It was almost an hour in and nothing happened. It had the potential to be an amazing movie but it was a bit too much. No more found-footage movies for me.

    • Too shaky? Go watch The Blair Witch Project, have fun.

  6. This is one of the worst movies, I have ever seen, annoying characters, horribly written script…. I’m shocked at all the good reviews. I guess people will settle for just about anything these days..

  7. Worst movie ever! Sucked soooo bad. Kids thought it sucked. Neighbors thought it sucked.

  8. I finally got to see this and loved it…definitely a 4 or maybe even a 4.5 rating (out of 5, of course). I quite enjoyed the characters and their development (although Steve did not so much develop as act as a primary plot progression). I found the “video recording” to be clever throughout, though stretched, obviously, in places…mainly the final battle. I thought the progression of the story and its strong connection to and buttressing of the superhero genre was great and wonderfully paced. I DO disagree with one thing an earlier poster said: He thought the film did a great job of establishing a supervillain origin story, but I maintain that it was ALWAYS about setting up a superHERO origin story…but to each, his own.

    Anyway, I loved it… :)

  9. The movie was horrible. I expected a little bit more. The whole “video recording” thing doesn’t work for me. It was a distraction for me.

    1/5

  10. *SPOILER ALERT* I just caught this film yesterday, and I must say it was better than expected! Love it when that happens. However, I’d hoped that more than one of the key characters would have survived, leaving a balanced playing field for Chronicle 2. Andrew was obviously damaged goods, but that would have made for a strong “Evil Strikes Back” return. Perhaps some of his power flowed into his dear drunk mean spirited dad during the blast… Im sure we’ll see down the road how it pans out, this weeks numbers determined that. Alas, all we know at the moment is that we have a Superman-esk character flying around, learning a bit from our harmonious friends in Tibet.

  11. I may be over zealous about this movie, but I thought it was refreshing and pretty original. This wasn’t a typical “zero becomes hero” movie like you might have expected from the beginning, but more of a tragedy about hubris and all that. This isn’t a story about a character learning from his mistake, but a warning about going too deep. Of course, tragedy itself isn’t original, but recently there has been a romanticization of the “loner” stereotype and it was nice to see a more realistic look at the “outcast.”

    What I mean about the “romanticization of the ‘loner’”: Andrew is a character that stands against a “cruel” world and its villains. He hates the douche-bags at his school, he rejects norms with his camera, he’s the artsy kid that we would expect to overcome the odds and topple the bullies. At the beginning, the viewer sides with Andrew, but as he becomes more powerful we see he has no real reason to be so distant from the world. We see this especially with the scenes with Steve; while Steve is able to laugh things off and form relationships, Andrew rejects this optimism (shown by the embarrassing party scene, “Why are you laughing Steven?” and the scene where Steve is killed). Instead of romanticizing Andrew’s rebellion against culture, the movie shows the flaws in Andrew’s thinking.

    I also enjoyed the script. Again, instead of romanticizing teenagers it shows the three characters talking naturally. Not every line was important, and there were many scenes that were anti-climatic, but that’s what adds to the realism of this movie. They’re conversations helped immerse you in their world.

    Despite these natural conversations, the film sticks to common motifs. The cousin (I forget his name) plays the “sage” in the movie, giving philosophical advice to Andrew and (almost blatantly) pointing out the moral of the movie at the beginning (“Man needs to recognize that he’s a creature of will”). Conversely, despite the use of the “sage” cliche, the movie retains it’s realism by having the characters mock the cousin’s philosophical statements.

    So basically, I liked this film. It was a simple, classic tragedy about hubris and power displayed realistically. Also, it redefines the “loner” or “outcast” stereotype. To those who say the movie was predictable, the movie has no attempts to hide its ending (you can tell from the trailer that Andrew will become corrupted). The fact you can predict a movie’s ending says nothing about the story the movie tells.

  12. Umm is there a Chronicle spoilers discussion? Because I would like to talk about this without worrying about spoiling it for anyone.

  13. OMG I hate movies that do the whole this is all being filmed by some guy with a handheld camera…5mins in I wanted to walk out. Why do people keep producing these movies of people with a video recording perspective. YUK YUK VOMIT MORE! :( Sorry but it’s my opinion it’s the kinda movie you download and go OMG I’m glad I didn’t pay money to go see that.

    • it was actually a good movie

    • dude, take the time and watch it. at first i almsot shut it off. but im glad i didnt.

    • No offense, but if you hate found-footage films do much then why would you bother watching it in the first place? They didn’t try to hide what it was. Yes you (he who despises found-footage films and they make you wanna vomit) took the time, paid the money to watch this movie….only to p&m about it. Save yourself the headache and save the internet your belly-aching and don’t watch anymore found-footage films. Please.

  14. Found this movie worth a lot less then I paid to see it I should have waited for it to air on tv. All the good parts I had already seen in the previews and I wish they would have warned about the Blair Witch style filming.

  15. This movie was definitely not worth my money. The shakey video recording is a huge distraction and it gives a headache.

    1/5

  16. It was a GREAT movie, the only thing I hated was the shaky camera thing. I literally threw up afterwards, I was so dizzy.

  17. This movie was great! I loved the main character Andrew and how he had to go through life and what made him do the things he did, but I wish it went more into depth about the various things he did, and explored further the true power of his telekinesis. Maybe if they made a SUPER extended version or a sequal or two, I’d be happy about that! Overall, 4/5, continuation of the story would give it a 5/5! I LOVE the handheld camera style, it is so nice to experience the movie as if you were actually there! I don’t know how people get sick from watching a movie though. Ah well, lol!

  18. this was the greatest movie ever i really enjoyed it im goin back to see it again

  19. Let’s see here, a ‘found-footage’ film featuring teenagers wit super powers? When I heard about this movie I thought they had literally picked every over-used annoying movie trick of the past decade and put it into one movie…all they were missing was vampires. However, after hearing nothing but positive reviews, I gave it a chance, and wow, glad I did – Chronicle was one of the most enjoyable movies regardless of genre that i’ve seen in awhile

    Great acting, slick incorporation of the found-footage style, and really strong acting…I can’t believe I’m saying this but I’d actually love to see a Chronicle 2. Adding to the movie was the soundtrack, I loved a lot of the music in this film, and every song seemed to add to each scene, very much like the Drive soundtrack. I especially loved hearing MNDR’s “Cut Me Out” at the house party where Andrew and Monica sit on the couch together, and Matt fiddles with the camera
    .

  20. This was the worst film i have ever seen in the cinema in my life, i absolutley hated it, it was the biggest waste of money EVER!

  21. why do people keep making movies with a hand held camera. i seen better home videos on youtube. people will rate anything 5stars these days. if you like kids who take there parents camera out in the back yard and you will love this movie.

    • I have a question,

      *SPOILER ALERT*

      When the guys return to the ‘hole’ and find it caved in, Steve says something like ‘you are not getting that camera back’ to Andrew. How was the footage prior to the ‘incident’ make it out? It would seem strange to get the tape out and leave the camera.

      Other than that i really enjoyed this movie and thought the whole cctv/phone cameras footage was inspired in the fight at the end

  22. Some of you need to just relax…. escape and realize that it’s just a movie. Accept that not all camera angles can be covered by the telekenesis!!! Imagine that for a second and lose yourself in the movie, instead of worry if Andrew is filming it all or not…. wow some of you… just can’t enjoy movies?

  23. Great movie! Why download when you can see it online? (adf.ly/FUXad) enjoy!!!

  24. I just watched this movie on net flix many years after the fact. I consider myself ebert neutral, and am not an art house junkie. This is the absolute worst movie I have ever seen and I have no idea how this was let alone produced, but received with wide critical acclaim. I need to understand why this movie was so well reviewed and would like your input and opinions. I am planning on making a short doc on this and would appreciate support on kick starter. Of course there are more important things In the world and I have no desire or intention on keeping any money earned by any

    • How about this, Jeff?
      I think I speak for many when someone says a movie sucks, yet never says why.
      Unlike a lot of other movies:
      It had a plot
      It had three dimensional characters
      And most of all it was believable

      The last idiot I asked about why he hated a particular movie gave me pathetic answers like the lighting was bad, I didn’t care for the music,
      and my favorite, recommends a film that was clearly crap like The Departed or Warm Bodies.

      Maybe Chronicle wasn’t your cup of tea cause it had to complicated a plot for you to follow.

    • “The absolute worst movie I have ever seen…”
      Here’s my opinion, Jeff;
      Why do so many state that they hate a movie but never say why?
      Maybe your brief documentary could explain that.

    • Hi. Is it too late to help on your doc for opinions and input about this movie, Chronicle? I’m willing to give you my thoughts about it.

  25. the experience could be much more enjoyable if the movies wasn’t trying to imitate Cloverfield with it’s first person POV. And one thing that annoyed me right from the start, the kid was filming everything, school, rave parties.. And got beat up for it. It was really unrealistic. No person would bring a camera to school and parties, especially a person who gets beat by jocks. And then he continued bringing the fricking camera everywhere. It’s so unrealistic it kinda ruined an otherwise ok movie for me

  26. Were you ever young?

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