“Chronicle,” released Feb. 3, is what would happen if “Spiderman” made babies with “Paranormal Activity”: wild, insane, jump-and-yelp found footage, but with the plot and characterization of a big budget comic book adaptation. In other words, freaking fabulous.
The movie starts off by introducing the audience to Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan) a quiet teenager who appears to suffer from depression who has decided to record his day-to-day life on a professional camera.
It’s rapidly shown that Andrew is one of those kids who gets bullied or ignored in equal measure every day. His only connection to kids his age is his cousin Matt Garetty (Alex Russell.)
In an effort to draw his cousin out, Matt invites Andrew to a party in an abandoned barn in the woods. When Andrew wanders away after being bullied, things get weird. Matt’s has found a sinkhole in the woods and wants Andrew to document it with his camera.
Accompanying Matt and the young man, Steve Montgomery (Michael B. Jordan,) Andrew’s camera records scattered footage of some alien thing interacting with the boys, before failing.
Two weeks and a new camera purchase later, Andrew demonstrates his newfound telekinesis for the camera, a trait it seems all three have gained.
From there, the movie goes on to explore how three normal teens would react and interact while possessing superpowers.
The plot, though strong, is a bit slow. But the powerful performances by the entire cast more than make up for it.
Aside from the camera-goes-fuzzy effects used when the boys gain their abilities, the special effects are excellent. At no point does it seem unreasonable for the boys to have or use their powers and, in many cases, the most astounding thing is made to seem natural.
Fans of found footage films will revel in the rich variety of cameras styles, angles and qualities used to show the boys’ actions.
Everything from cellphones to security cameras gets into the film at some point. One of the recurring characters is actually a vlogger and her recorded interactions with Matt add another dimension to his character.
On the other hand, fans of superhero movies will find much to enjoy as the boys develop and strengthen their abilities, and find new ways to use them.
Overall, “Chronicle” is a stylish found-footage film, with a strong plot and a heart-wrenching end. A definite must see, with a caveat: take your children at your own risk. The violence isn’t cartoonish and lacks the stylized flair of most superhero films. It looks real.
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