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Film Review: Chronicle

02/10/2012 12:46AM ● Published by Justin Buettner

In Chronicle, three teenagers find a mysterious orb at a party and they wake up with telekinetic powers. The film then follows these three high school students as they learn to control and use their newfound abilities starting with small pranks. But as their power continues to grow their lives begin to spin out of control, leading to one of them to fall prey to a dark side born from the abuse of bullies and abusive parents. Can his friends react in time to save him?

Chronicle will be called by many a “super hero” movie. I don’t think Chronicle really fits that profile. No one in this movie ever sets out to be a hero. Instead it’s a very effective, very dark  movie about an introverted teen’s descent into evil brought on by abuse. This movie is extremely unique in the way that it tells its story from the viewpoint of the villain. The use of the first person footage technique is used effectively as the audience gets a front seat vantage point to what it must feel like to be bullied and tormented. So while the character of Andrew falls to the dark side this movie shows quite clearly why he goes there. After all Andrew, the boy who is constantly beaten down, quickly realizes he’s gone from powerless to all powerful almost overnight. It isn’t long before he exercises that power.

The three teen characters never discuss becoming heroes but instead use their power at first for pranks, then find selfish pleasure in their gifts. They’re teenagers and the three characters come across as very believable. Chronicle is expertly cast and the performances by all three leads are unusually strong for this type of movie. Dane Dehaan is simply captivating as Andrew. Although Dehaan had the best performance, his co-stars Michael Jordan and Alex Russell have the look and likability factor to be stars if they pick their films well, and Chronicle is an excellent start.

The effects for a low budget film are excellent. The first person footage helps with the aura of realism, but even the third act which goes all out crazy is quite convincing. The action is easy to follow and flows together well.  Josh Trank demonstrates he has a special ability to cut together both drama and action, especially considering this is feature film debut. He gained a lot of fame for his youtube video (the link is below). I see a long career ahead for him.

Max Landis’s script really takes a few familiar and perhaps overplayed genres but twists them to make something truly original. The mere fact that the film made it through a major Hollywood studio as a complete tragedy instead of the Hollywood happy ending is very impressive. Consider that this movie was made on a budget of only 12 million dollars as compared to the 100+ million dollar budgets other effects rich movies also adds even more respect for these young filmmakers.

Chronicle is easily one of the best films released this year (I know it is only February) but this movie sets the bar high in my opinion. Although I thought highly of the movie I will warn that this movie will not be for everyone. It is dark and depressing. It is a tragedy and does not come with a Hollywood happy ending. I’d like to stress again that this is not a super hero movie either. Anyone going to see this film expecting a movie like Captain America or Iron Man are going to leave disappointed. Chronicle  is a character study and gives a perspective of a type of character that is not spotlighted in films often. If you like interesting movies that are different than the norm, you will enjoy this movie.

 Films like Chronicle : Kick-Ass, Akira and Lucas


Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.

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