The idea of super powers is something everyone has pondered at some point in their life, if you could have super powers what would it be? To control things with you're mind, Fly, maybe become indestructible? Well Chronicle kind of answers that question with all three, well two out three because there is a moment in the film that is sort of disproved, anyway, if you're sick of the same old comic book adaptation taking over the cinema screen twice a year with the likes of Captain America, Superman and The Avenger's taking your money and you're looking for some thing new, a fresh take on the old super hero mythos, then Chronicle is that film, a film not set in Metropolis, Gotham City or any alternative universe, this film is set in this world, the real world.
The film follows three high school kids, the outsider who's kinda cool but plays by his own rules, the class president who everyone loves and the lonely out cast who gets bullied not just at school but at home too. The film basically focuses on Andrew the bullied high schooler who lives with his terminally ill mother and his alcoholic abusive father, Andrew decides to document everything by filming everything that happens every day. His cousin Matt, the kinda cool guy, invites him to a party being thrown at a big house. Here he meets Steve, the class president and Steve wants Andrew to film something he found with Matt out in a field. A sink hole. They jump in and discover a glowing object situated underground. Something happens and the camera is fucked. Cut to new camera and the three boys have developed strange powers, the main one being telekinesis. They decide to have fun with their new found powers buy messing around in a toy shop, moving someone's car and so on. Meanwhile Andrew is constantly getting grief from his dad and causes an accident on a road that results in the car following them plunging into a river. They set rules about how to use their powers after this. Then they develop flight which allows them to go anywhere they want. Andrew is still getting grief from his dad and ends up hurting him. Andrew is slowly starting to realise his powers are stronger than the others and with the bullying and home battery, begins to fall into a darker state of mind until the finale which sees Andrew and Matt battle it out over and through the city of Seattle.
I was trying to avoid revealing to much of the plot because I didn't want to spoil it for you, but it's a good anti-superhero movie that we rarely see and comes across more like the rise of a super villain than a super hero. In a way the build up to the finale is more like the TV show Heroes as the characters come to terms with their abilities and learn how to control them. The interesting thing is that the film follows the tried and tested comic book formula of the 'origin story' much like we see in films like Spider-Man, Batman Begins, Iron Man and Captain America and the film ends with the almost destruction of a city. It really does follow that comic book movie template but takes a much darker route than the films I mentioned and becomes almost identical to films like Dark City and especially Katsuhiro Ohtomo's seminal film AKIRA with how Andrew's character becomes engulfed by hate much like Tetsuo during the finale of Akira.
The film also falls into the whole found footage genre of film making although the footage isn't actually found but more a video diary, could have come across as tired and clichéd but Director Josh Trank came up with the novel idea of using the telekinetic ability to float the camera around the characters making the film seem like a regular movie but also gives the idea that the camera is being controlled by someone’s mind. This is a pretty clever idea and even though it does employ that whole hand held camera crap that seems to be clogging up cinema these days, Trank has utilized that style to give it a fresh new look. During the finale we still have the floating camera idea but also the inclusion of TV news camera's, security camera's, police and news choppers to capture the battle of Seattle. While the idea of security camera's had been used previously in George A. Romero's Diary Of The Dead, here they're used sparingly and Trank focuses more on the use of new helicopters and hand held camera's collect the footage.
Some of the FX work is where the film falters. At times the visual FX are great such as the flying scenes where they play catch with an American football above the clouds but sometimes the they do look a little bit ropey such as the baseball scenes towards the start of the film and an obvious Green Screened back ground for Seattle while two of the characters are standing on top of a building, other than those, the film is on point. It could however been a bit longer as I watched the extended edition that was 89 minutes, 5 minutes longer than the theatrical cut and I found that the power's and Andrew decline into evil could have been slightly more extended. Apparently there is an R-rated directors cut that has more violence and is much darker in tone but knowing 20th Century Fox, we're highly unlikely to ever see it. For now though this is enough for me.
Max Landis, son of John Landis director of An American Werewolf In London, wrote the screenplay and fair doo's it's a pretty good script which brings out some good performances especially from Dane Dehaan who plays Andrew.
Overall, for me, Chronicle is a breath of fresh air for the superhero / comic book genre, it takes a different look at the origins of super powers and instead of looking to a character that becomes the hero, it looks more at a character becoming a villain which for me made the film vastly more enjoyable as it was new take on the origin story. In a way you could say that Chronicle is the comic book version of Scarface, a film about the rise and fall of a villain, although I doubt in twenty years Chronicle will be the film that most Rap artists love more. I really liked it and I hope more people enjoy it now on dvd and blu ray even though it still made a bit at the cinema. To be honest this is one of the rare times I actually want to see a sequel. It gets 4 stars from me...