A Quick Synopsis
There have been hundreds of movies featuring characters with super powers, be it from spider bites, arriving from a distant planet, or simply having wads of cash to buy cool toys that make them appear super. In most cases those powers are used for good, but I'm sure we have all watched those films at one point and wondered why they don't just go and take or do what they want; who would be able to stop them? That's the idea behind Chronicle, a found footage style movie that focuses on 3 high school kids who literally stumble upon super powers. Are they mature enough to handle them, or will things spin out of control?
Act 1 - Introduction & Discovery
I'm sure that many people will already be put off by the found footage aspect of this movie, but you shouldn't be, as it's done in a way that is really quite fresh. The story focuses around 3 high school kids, Andrew, Matt, and Steve, all of whom are very different, but who end up friends due to a strange event that binds them together.
Andrew is a self confessed loner and shy kid who decides to commit his life to video, although the initial reason for doing so is to catch his drunken father in the act of beating him. Matt is Andrew's cousin who provides a daily ride to school, and hangs around out of some misguided sense of family loyalty. And then there is Steven, the shoe in to become school president, and the guy that everyone just adores.
While at a high school rave, Steven asks Andrew to bring his camera so that they can document something, "really cool." The three boys end up peering down a hole in the middle of a field, which seems to stretch down forever. Still at an age where fear is overcome by curiosity, the boys head down the hole, only to discover a large crystal looking object that pulses a variety of different colors, and give off an audible hum. The picture and sound are distorted in the camera, and as the light and sound show reaches a cresendo, we fade to black.
Act 2 - The Powers That Be.
The next scene we see involves the boys all showing off the things they can do. Levitating a ball in mid-air, moving a parked car across a parking lot, and short acts of levitation. With each passing clip it becomes apparent that their powers are growing stronger. The little parlor tricks grow more elaborate, including Andrew's ability to float his camera around, which is a very clever move that allows all three of them to be in the shot, as well as creating some fantastic angles and perspectives. As this is all going on, we get a little closer look at how Andrew's home life is slowly degenerating, as his alcoholic father becomes increasingly violent, all set against the backdrop of a mother who is at death's door. Andrew uses the camera to hide behind, but his life seems to take a turn for the better when he becomes the star act at the high school talent show; a rise to popularity that is over as quickly as it began.
Act 3 - Rise Of The Apex Predator
To this point, Chronicle has been sprinkled with more than it's fair share of laugh's, but the third act takes a dark turn that leads to a rather stunning final 2o minutes. This is especially so when you consider that the movie was shot for $15 million, a paltry amount for a special effects laden piece that could fail miserably with sloppy CGI. Director Josh Trank is to be commended for the way in which he pieced together the finale, employing clips from security cameras, police car dashboard cameras and more. It comes off like a seamless single take, and it doesn't make the mistake of having that jerky camera motion that can be hard to stomach, literally, in other found footage movies.
The acting is solid, the story is an interesting twist on the whole superhero genre, and the 84 minute run time flies by in a snap. Chronicle is a great little movie that deserves to find an audience, and while it's still early in the year, it has set the bar high for the cape flapping, web slinging, utility belt wearing super heroes that are about to hit the screen this summer.