CHRONICLE (2012) Review

Directed by: Josh Trank
Starring: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan

I have to be honest and say that before I saw CHRONICLE I was expecting a pretty mediocre effort, especially since this was director Josh Trank's feature length debut and the lead actors are basically unknowns. Fortunately however I was pleasantly surprised and this movie turned out to be one of the best of the year so far.

Andrew (DeHaan), Matt (Russell) and Steve (Jordan) are three friends who stumble upon some strange object which imbues them with superpowers. They find themselves able to make things float around the room, move objects and even fly high into the sky. Unlike most movies where people find themselves with strange superpowers though, these three friends don't decide to wear latex and capes and go about fighting crime and helping people, instead they do exactly what I would probably do. They use their powers for fun. Freaking people out by making items fly off the shelves in a supermarket, or even playing a game of football high up in the clouds, these are the kinds of things you would expect young me like these to do. But eventually these powers lead to a tragic incident and so the trio set some rules regarding their powers.
But before too long Andrew's powers begin to take him over and he is consumed with anger and grows aggressive. Things go from bad to worse until his powers are completely out of control.

The found footage element is introduced via Andrew who films his life and through these videos we find out that he is essentially an outcast and doesn't have a great life, with an abusive father and a mother dying of cancer. After he receives these mysterious powers he uses them to move the camera around and this is how the movie manages to achieve some great cinematography while still keeping the found footage feel.
The writing in CHRONICLE is amazingly well done, and the characters are likeable (for the most part), realistic and easy to relate to, with a few exceptions of course. The way the three main characters interact is believable and you probably know somebody who is similar to at least one of these characters. A big exception here though is Andrew's dad who I thought to be a bit over the top.
There are some great effects here and even though there is a whole lot of CGI and green screen work I actually didn't find it too bad at all. The flying movements seem a bit awkward at first but before long you don't even notice. 

I'm a pretty big fan of the found footage genre even though for the most part it seems to be a bit of a gimmick, but here it actually worked quite well. The way the camera moves around by its own volition is great. It's nice and smooth and not the usual jerky shooting you usually find in the found footage films.
And another surprising aspect of the film is just how well it has managed to do on a rather limited budget compared to other movies of a similar quality.

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