Solid shaky-cam film making.
- Who's going to like it: Comic geek sci-fi nerds. Like me!
Although its point of view camera perspective switches around a bit and may not be reasonable or even possible from time to time (meaning it can be hard to believe that someone would continue filming through most of it), “Chronicle” is one of the better of the “found-footage,” hand-held, first-person, films; and wow what a long, run-on sentence that was!
Even though we follow three teenage boys as they struggle with telekinetic abilities derived from their contact with a mysterious source, the strength of “Chronicle” lies in its realism. The humor is natural and well-delivered — and needed, considering how heavy the story gets later. The three main characters act and react they way kids their age probably would; at first using their newfound abilities for pranks to amuse themselves, and later their use starts to fall in line with their respective personalities. The wild premise is kept grounded by a relatively unknown but talented cast, with only Ashley Hinshaw being a weaker link, with a nearly unnecessary character. Her “Casey Letter” seems only there to be another cameraperson to get the necessary footage needed to tell the story, especially in its third act.
The first act is one of discovery; not only of the source of their powers, but of our main characters themselves. We learn of their histories (tragic for one, charmed for others), and their motivations. The second act is one of development; again, not only of their powers but of their relationships between themselves and others. Sadly the pyrotechnic third act is where “Chronicle” falls down a bit. Not because relationships fall apart or the powers overflow, but because too much screen time is focused on sheer demolition. I enjoy a good action sequence as well as anyone (especially superhero style!), but much of the closing duke ‘em out between super powered angst-ridden teens felt over-indulgent, and almost like it was being done because it could be done. After so far showing the viewer convincing special effects, I think the filmmakers said “Now let’s show ‘em what we can really do” and overloaded the end with spectacle. Given the explosiveness and mercilessness of the fall from empathic grace of “Andrew Detmer” very well-played by Dane DeHaan, the very ending also seems a bit incongruent. Still, it does show that its heart is certainly in the right place. Were I more of these types of “found-footage” films to come this creative team, “Chronicle” is a great place to start, and a fairly high bar to hurdle.
Overall Score for “Chronicle” from Rich Bonaduce: B+
“Chronicle (2012)” is rated PG-13 for intense action and violence, thematic material, some language, sexual content and teen drinking.
Directed by: Josh Trank
Written by: Max Landis (screenplay), Max Landis (story), Josh Trank (story)
(4 out of 5)