Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly, Alex Russell, Dane DeHaan, Anna Wood, Ashley Hinshaw
New York University '00
"I don't think you're dumb... I just think at times you're under-exposed to information." -Murphy Brown
Review By: Dan Deevy
Just when I thought I had seen every possible type of super hero movie along comes Chronicle to surprise the hell out of me. I had heard that this movie was very different in a really good way but I had no idea just how good it was until the final frame had rolled on screen and it was over.
‘Super hero’ movie is probably the wrong classification for this film; it’s more like a coming of age drama with super powers mixed in. What makes it unique though is that generally as soon as you add the sci-fi / fantasy element of special abilities into the mix, the drama and reality of the piece is lost. That’s not the case with Chronicle. For some reason it kept reminding me of a gritty British film like Trainspotting more than any kind of American made fluffier type of film.
The story is actually the classic birth of a villain tale that we’ve seen time and time again in comic books but with a modern spin on it. Dane DeHaan plays Andrew, a high school loner who has spent his entire life being bullied; by kids at school and also by his abusive alcoholic father at home. One day while out in a random field with his cousin Matt (Alex Russell) and High School hero Steve (Michael B. Jordan) the trio stumble upon a strange sink hole with a mysterious light emanating from it. The boys climb down and investigate and when the emerge they all begin to slowly develop telekinetic abilities.
As you would guess Andrew is now able to defend himself for the first time in his life and eventually takes it too far. But that’s not the interesting part of the film. The most interesting thing about this movie is Andrews slow decent into embracing evil and how his new found best friends deal with and react to it.
The relationship between these guys is just fantastic to watch develop. There’s nothing stereotypical about their behavior. They aren’t perfect, they aren’t twisted, they are all very three dimensional and real. You feel a constant empathy for what Andrew is going through and more often than not you are rooting for him to use his powers to fight back, but then when he finally does and all of that anger is released you immediately want him to stop.
The style with which the film was shot was something that on paper I would have hated. It’s hand held throughout the entire film occasionally cutting to steady shots from security cameras that exist in the scene, but the majority of it is all hand held which I generally cannot stand.
Three things kept me from hating it here. First it was perhaps the most steady hand held work I’ve ever seen. You rarely felt like the camera shaking
Yes, some of the green screen work was noticeable and some of the flying looked slightly off but it made absolutely no difference to me. I was never, not for one second taken out of the world of this movie.
We’ve all wished for super powers at one point or another in our lives and we’ve fantasized about all of the wrongs and injustices in the world we would be able to right if we had them; this is a movie that shows us just how wrong those seemingly good intentions can go in the hands of a trouble teenager.
The Blu-ray presentation of the film is as clean and sharp as I’ve ever seen on my TV. I loved the way this movie looked. The Blu-ray also contains two different versions of the film. There’s the original theatrical version of the film and also the Directors Cut. Given the choice, I always go directors cut!
There are also several special features including an early camera test with three different actors, the Pre-Viz stage which is several of the action sequences rendered in a computer before they were shot, there’s a theatrical trailer, and a sneak-peak at upcoming releases.
All of those are fine, but I honestly would have liked some interviews with cast talking about this unique filming process and also about their characters. That’s the heart of this movie and I think they should have paid some behind-the-scenes attention to that.
This is a movie best seen and appreciated in theaters on the big screen but assuming you have a decent home theater set up you’ll get the same effect. Just be sure to watch it with the lights out and don’t let anyone interrupt you!