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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Chronicle | Dane DeHaan, Michael B. Jordan, Alex Russell, Ashley Hinshaw | Review

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Chronicle

Chronicle is the latest film to be released in what has become known as the found footage genre, documentary style flicks filmed from the first person point of view. The concept started with the surprise box office mega success, Blair Witch Project with others following suit such as Cloverfield and the Paranormal Activity franchise.

Chronicle is a sci fi thriller that could very well be described as Carrie meets Cloverfield meets the defunct TV series Heroes. Written by Max Landis (son of director John) with first time director Josh Trank at the helm, the premise begs you to question, what would you do if you suddenly had super human powers? Would you use them for the good of mankind or fall victim to the dark side.  Once a bad can of worms is opened there is no telling how far and destructive the consequences will be.

The film features three relative unknowns, Dane DeHaan (who at times reminded me of a young Leonardio Di Caprio), Alex Russell and the most familiar, Michael B. Jordan (Wallace, from HBO's The Wire), each turning in convincing performances.  They play three Seattle high school students whose lives are changed forever after they come across a strange object.

Andrew (DeHaan) is a nerdy loner with a home and social life that sucks. His mother (Bo Peterson) lies in bed with a terminal illness and his dad (Michael Kelly) is a no good, abusive drunk.  Considered an outcast with no friends, at school Andrew is picked on by bullies.  His only source of harnessing his inner turmoil and resentment is by video taping anything and everything with his video camera that he takes everywhere. One night at a barn rave, with his camera in tow, Andrew is asked to follow his smart, hunky cousin Matt (Russell) and their charismatic school mate Steve (Jordan) an aspiring politician, to check out a mysterious, deep hole in the ground of the nearby woods.  Unfearful of what they might find, boys jump in and soon come across a huge, pulsating crystal-like object that gives them nosebleeds and the power of telekinesis, the ability to move anything with their mind.

Casey, a pretty blonde video blogger (Ashley Hinshaw) introduced at the barn rave, is the potential love interest for Matt, but other than he being her savior towards the end, her character doesn't doesn't bring anything of importance to the unfolding plot.

Rather than exploring what the mysterious cavernous object is and whether it is of alien origin, the film focuses on the teenagers, what they do with their new powers and how it is all captured or “chronicled” on Andrew's camera, which he now has the ability to move and levitate at different angles without having to hold it.

Keeping their newly acquired abilities a secret from everyone, with no interest in heroism, at first they have fun teaching themselves to levitate,  playing pranks and messing with people's minds such as moving toys frantically in the air at a department store that freak out kids, lifting a car from one parking space to another at the mall, and participating in a school talent show, where they have the audience shocked and amazed by what is believed to a magic act.

Like a muscle that strengthens with use, the trio begin to developed new and stronger powers. The boys discover they can fly and take to the skies where they play a game of football in the clouds. These aerial stunts provide some of the most exciting moments in the film as the camera allows us to share the scenery from their point of view.

Eventually, things get way out of hand when fun and games leads to tragedy.  Andrew proves to be a loose cannon with deadly intentions. The former nerd, with deep seeded anger, starts taking out his vengeance and rage with the use of his powers. Needless to say, that is when all hell breaks loose. No longer a victim, Andrew turns into a sinister, destructive force that needs to be stopped.

The CGI effects, for the most part, are seamless and effective and the action packed climatic scene,   entails a dynamic face off that almost destroys the city of Seattle.

First time director Trank makes an impressive debut with this feature film.  Teamed up with talented writer Landis, the duo show great promise. I would be interested to see if they will harness their creative powers once again and prove whether they have the ability to up the ante and deliver an even better moving going experience in the not too distant future.

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