Starring: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, and Michael B. Jordan (Red Tails)
Director: Josh Trank
U.S. Release: February 3rd, 2012 (Rated PG-13)
Runtime: 83 minutes
Every now and again the unthinkable happens and a group of unknowns claw their way into the limelight. Traversing the small, yet crowded, gap between ordinary and heralded, the trio of young stars in Josh Trank's debut film, Chronicle, do just that. What began as a series of clips on the viral video haven Youtube, Chronicle is the latest sci-fi/action extravaganza to sweep across the nation. With the aid of its three leading actors, Chronicle is able to go beyond the norm and transcend the modern surplus of "found footage" films.
Chronicle follows the life of a verbally and physically tormented teenage outcast named Andrew Detmer (played be DeHaan). The troubled teen decides to invest what little money he has into a camera, and Andrew begins filming every dull aspect of his life. However, the moment Andrew's older and more popular cousin Matt Garetty (played by Russell) convinces him to come to a party and socialize, their lives change forever. Outside of the party the cousins, alongside class-president to be Steve Montgomery (played by Jordan), use Andrew's camera and light to investigate a strange hole in the ground. While down there, the boy's discovery gives each of them superhuman capabilities. But as we all know, with great power comes great responsibility.
Josh Trank's debut work, Chronicle, is a solid film propelled by its talented, yet unknown, cast. Each of these fine young actors demonstrates an amazing amount of skill throughout the duration of the movie. Any rare moment of on-screen insufficiency portrayed by DeHann, Garetty, or Jordan can be chalked up to poorly constructed dialogue. But, truth be told, such moments are few and far between. Each character unique and vital to the success of the story, these up-and-coming actors are truly the heart and soul of Chronicle.
Despite its unquestionably strong cast, Chronicle is a fantastic premise that becomes submersed by its abundant potential. The movie blends together a Hancock-like capacity with teenage instability and it creates an intriguing look at how people handle such a gift. The beauty of Chronicle rests in the convincing manner in which the film bypasses the mystery behind what these super powers are and, instead, tackles the notion of how they should be handled. Using a science fiction and supernatural backdrop to address the issue mortality seems so perfectly obvious, yet virtually unvisited. On the other hand, this clever approach is somewhat halted by a few minor flaws. Utilizing the "found footage" and real life camera theme feels a bit deficient. Instead of complementing the strong backbone of the film, such tactics end up weakening its credibility. Furthermore, Chronicle abruptly begins to go haywire in its third act. A more subtle lead up to this issue of power struggle and morality would have better serviced the feature.
With a rarely dull 83 minute runtime, Chronicle is an entertaining and creative journey into the supernatural. And although the film's potential far surpasses the final product, Chronicle does not disappoint. The movie is a dream come true for fans of intense visuals and special effects. If you enjoy such elements of film making, it's an immediate must see. Otherwise, Chronicle is worth checking out at your own pace.
Stars: 2 and a half stars out of 4