PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):
Seattle teenager Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan) starts videotaping his life. His mother Karen (Bo Petersen) is slowly dying from cancer and his alcoholic father Richard (Michael Kelly) verbally and physically abuses him. At school, Andrew is unpopular and frequently bullied.
Andrew’s cousin Matt (Alex Russell) invites him to a rave to help him meet people, but Andrew’s filming angers an attendee and Andrew leaves despondent. Approached outside by Steve (Michael B. Jordan), a popular student, Andrew is persuaded to join him and Matt to record something strange the pair of them have found in the woods: a hole in the ground that emits a loud strange noise. The three enter the hole and discover a large crystalline object glowing blue. As Andrew records, the object glows red and the group is stricken by nosebleeds and pain. The camera cuts out. Weeks later Andrew records himself, Matt, and Steve as they display telekinetic abilities, able to move objects with their minds, but bleeding from their noses when they overexert themselves. They return to the hole, but find that it has collapsed and that the sheriff’s department is sealing off the area for safety.
As their abilities grow more powerful, Matt theorizes that they function like a muscle, becoming stronger with use. The three boys develop a close friendship and begin employing their abilities to play pranks. However, after Andrew pushes a rude motorist off the road and into a river, Matt insists that they restrict the use of their powers, particularly against living creatures. The three later discover that they can use their powers to fly and revel in the experience. They agree to fly around the world together after graduation, with Andrew expressing an interest in visiting Tibet because of its peaceful nature. Steve encourages Andrew to enter the school talent show to gain popularity. Andrew amazes his fellow students by disguising his powers as an impressive display of tricks. That night, Andrew, Matt and Steve celebrate at a house party, where Andrew is the center of attention. After drinking with his classmate Monica (Anna Wood), she and Andrew go upstairs to have sex, but Andrew vomits on Monica, humiliating himself.
Andrew becomes increasingly withdrawn and hostile, culminating when his father attacks him and Andrew uses his power to overpower him. His outburst is so extreme that it inflicts psychically connected nosebleeds and pain on Steve and Matt. Steve is drawn to Andrew, who is floating in the middle of a storm. Steve tries to console him, but Andrew grows increasingly angry until Steve is suddenly struck by lightning and killed. At Steve’s funeral, Matt confronts Andrew about the suspicious circumstances of Steve’s death. Andrew denies knowledge or responsibility to Matt, but he privately begs forgiveness at Steve’s grave.
Andrew grows distant from Matt and again finds himself alone and unpopular at school. After being bullied, he uses his power to tear several teeth from the bully’s mouth. Andrew begins to identify himself as an apex predator, rationalizing that he should not feel guilt for using his power to hurt those weaker than himself. When his mother’s condition deteriorates, Andrew uses his powers to steal money for her medicine. After mugging some local thugs, he robs a gas station where he inadvertently causes an explosion that puts him in the hospital and under police investigation. At his bedside, his father informs the unconscious Andrew that his mother has died, and he angrily blames Andrew for her death. As his father is about to strike him, Andrew awakens and blows out the outer wall of the hospital room.
Elsewhere, Matt experiences a nosebleed and senses Andrew is in trouble. He sees a news report about the hospital explosion and travels there, finding Andrew floating outside the building. Andrew drops his father, who is saved by Matt, and proceeds to wreak havoc with his powers. Matt confronts Andrew at the Space Needle and tries to reason with him, but Andrew grows increasingly hostile and irrational at any attempt to control him. Andrew attacks Matt and the pair fight across the city, crashing through buildings and hurling vehicles. Injured and enraged, Andrew uses his power to destroy the buildings around him, threatening lives. Unable to get through to Andrew, Matt tears a spear from a nearby statue and impales Andrew, killing him. The police surround Matt, but he flies away.
Some time later, Matt lands in Tibet with Andrew’s camera. Speaking to the camera while addressing Andrew, Matt vows to use his powers for good and to find out what happened to them in the hole. Matt positions the camera to view a Tibetan monastery in the distance and says “You made it” before flying away, leaving the camera behind to continue recording the tranquil scene.
When Chronicle was released earlier this year, everyone was raving about how great it was. I decided to pass on it and wait until it came out on DVD, though, knowing that I probably wasn’t going to be this film’s biggest fan. Sure enough, seeing it tonight did nothing for me. This film definitely falls into the category of overrated, in my opinion.
What did I like?
Idea. The idea of a group of guys who are just living their lives, having a good time, and all that jazz who suddenly find this supposed alien artifact that gives them powers is the film’s strongest point, of that there is no question. As a matter of fact, this plot may be the reason the director has been tapped to helm the (unnecessary) reboot of the Fantastic Four, due to the somewhat similar natures of the products. So often, though, we get these superpowered beings who seem to just be larger than life, totally forgetting that they do have lives before and around their powers.
Effects. Being a small budget film, there isn’t much in the way of financial backing behind this picture. With that said, the special effects here are not too shabby. The flying scenes, for instance are almost as good as what we see in the Iron Man movies. Imagine what these people could have done with some real money!
Spiral. I won’t spoil anything, but one of the characters goes on a journey through the film that leads to the film’s climax. The descent, if you will, from where he is at the film’s beginning to the place he is at the end of the flick and all point in-between is almost enough to pique the audience’s attention and hold it throughout.
What didn’t I like?
Found footage. I do not like this fad of filmmaking. It seems to be a pox on the existence of cinema in the same way that reality tv has been for tv. It would be one thing if this was actually footage that was found, but let’s be real, this crap wasn’t found, it was made up and filmed with a cheap camera in a sad attempt to make the audience believe it was found.
Acting. I’ve been privy to some horrible acting in my day. This isn’t it, but it is pretty bad. Granted, the case is relative unknowns, and the script didn’t help matters, but I’ve seen great things from Michael B. Jordan in the final two seasons of Friday Night Lights, so he has no excuse!
Chronicle is just one of those films that you’re either bound to love or hate. I happen to be more in the camp of the latter. There just seems to be that feeling that the filmmakers were trying to be cutting edge, only it didn’t work out the way they wanted it to. On the other hand, though, they did make some serious bank. Do I recommend this flick? No, because quite frankly, it isn’t worth your time.
2 out of 5 stars