Judging from the Chronicle trailer my initial reactions were that it was Akira lite, but it did have an interesting angle being a handheld style superhero film. So does this film manage to pull it off or just feel like a low budget cop out?
Chronicle is about three high school friends who make a discovery that mysteriously grants them superpowers. But the more they start to use these powers the stronger they become. Their their friendship is put to the test as things get out of hand, what starts out as harmless pranks soon turns into serious events that puts lives at risk. Tensions rise and they must keep each other in check.
First time feature director Josh Trank sticks to a simple rule that all camera work involved is through the lens of video equipment. Our main character Andrew (Dane DeHaan) starts with a camcorder which he brings everywhere to document his friendship, in a rather eye rolling fashion; but cctv & camera phones start to be added to the equation. This device is used to support the story telling and in a rather cool fashion. It adds an extra dimension of realism to the events we see, without feeling that we are actually being obscured from viewing what is taking place. As Andrew gains the ability to free float objects independently of himself, we are not just fixed on a first person view of events and it cleverly allows for freedom of movement.
At the beginning though, what we are treated to is essentially to is a bunch of faff to try establish that yes, this person films everything.
The powers are used in a seemingly real fashion with each of the characters playing with them and daring each other to do more, this is supported by some good c.g. It is the small events that add to the realism of the whole; Max Landis & Josh Trank writing this as if they were the ones who gained these powers. It starts with childish jokes between friends such as making objects float to scare people and flying baseballs into each other, but takes a dramatic turn once Andrew goes too far and nearly kills someone(there’s always someone who has to go too far). It is here that the group establish rules, the golden rule being that their powers are not to be used on people.
Each of the main characters Andrew (Dane DeHaan), Matt (Alex Russel) & Steve (Michael B. Jordan) represent a different moral standing. Matt & Steve already being fairly popular teens at high school see their powers as something for fun, whereas Andrew being the quiet bullied type starts to view his powers as a weapon. Their relationship is well balanced with each character providing equilibrium for the others, but it is strained when they start to inevitably drift apart. The idea that their powers grow the more they use it adds an interesting dimension; as we see Andrew building his powers faster than the others it starts to ask the question, whether it is an equilibrium only because they were all on the same terms. Josh Trank staggers their ability evolution through this film with firm control; which culminates in their eventual power struggle and a grand spectacular battle.
This film is a good achievement for something that’s high concept but on a low budget. It taps into a yearning of feeling like we would be capable of extraordinary things given this catalyst with it’s docu fly on the wall style of visual storytelling. Josh Trank’s strength as a director is his ability to grasp what it feels like to be in the midst of these grand events & not get lost in spectacle. Surprisingly his use of camera work is what makes this film work. I would definitely like to see what the director is capable of on a blockbuster budget.
“MIND-BENDING EXTENDED EDITION WITH THRILLING NEW FOOTAGE AVAILABLE EXCLUSIVELY ON BLU-RAY “
Blu Ray/ DVD Release Date: 28th May 2012 (UK)
Director: Josh Trank
Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly, Alex Russell, Dane DeHaan
Buy Chronicle: DVD (+ Digital Copy) / Blu-ray Extended Edition (+ Digital Copy)
Chronicle UK Trailer [HD] Published via LongTail.tv