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Chronicle Deals With More Than The Supernatural

7/10
Author: Marc Davis from Texas
29 May 2012

If you enjoyed the Heroes series on NBC those first two years it debuted back in 2006, then you'll love Chronicle. With that said, I guess you can also surmise that this film is not too original. And the problem with super hero movies and TV series like this is that it's hard to keep the material fresh and hard for writers to come up with plots that are even 70% believable. That was my concern with this film, the previews looked promising, but I also figured that much of the action that would take place in the film was mostly displayed in the 30 - 60 second previews.

Well I was wrong. This film succeeded in holding my attention throughout the film and managed to be quite believable. Two of the things that make it believable is that it deals with deep, human physiological issues just as much as it does the supernatural powers that the filmmakers promoted. Director Josh Trank brilliantly shows (through actor Dane DeHaan's character) that such powers in the hands of a mentally-disturbed individual, or an individual with economic issues, can be a serious danger to society and self-destructive, even when that individual is not intent on doing so.

And the second reason this film is believable: Chronicle does not have a happy ending. And I don't mean to come of as pessimistic but for me, that makes a movie more believable, because let's face it, in life sometimes we don't get a "happy ever after" ending.

With that said, I will definitely recommend this movie. I rated it a 7 because I thought the special effects were a little elementary, but the content more than makes up for this flaw.

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Well Done Sci-Fi

9/10
Author: Kevin Bradley from Kansas City, MO, United States
28 May 2012

I rented this movie on Memorial Day weekend with no expectations. Instead of being a pleasant diversion, it turned out to be top-notch sci-fi with an emotional gut punch.

I'm not spoiling anything to say that you see the ending coming, but you see it in the way that a person in a crosswalk sees an oncoming car. You know it's coming, but you also know you can't do anything to stop it. The way this director builds tension is really cool.

The young actors are amazing. They each have a stereotypical character, but the script and the actors turn each one into more than a stereotype. The emotionally damaged Andrew is great, but doesn't upstage his cousin Matt, the rational good kid, or the popular "candidate for class president" Steve. The three of them and the camera bring us into their world of weirdness, and we feel privy to a secret as they experiment with their new abilities, playing pranks and just giggling at the silliness of it all.

Matt manages to convey the idea of "with great power comes great responsibility" without using the trite language of a comic book. Steve honestly tries to help Andrew but doesn't realize that he's too damaged to be helped. And Andrew, for his part, is so emotionally wounded that your heart goes out to him even though you realize he's beyond redemption.

Good movie. See it.

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Thankfully not Cloverfield 2

6/10
Author: schuesseled from United Kingdom
24 May 2012

Having glanced at the description for this film, i excitedly watched the trailer, only to have the excitement crushed. "Oh no, this looks like cloverfield" i thought.

Doesn't anyone record films properly anymore...

Having watched this, outside of the cinema, it isn't all that bad. The plot is compelling, the characters and their actors are compelling, and the development of the lads powers, make the scifi nerd in me want to fist pump.

However, camcorder style cinematics are terrible, both generally and specifically. It is just awful, its like walking around with tunnel vision.

This could have been done in normal cinematic style and work frankly be a lot better, and i'd have scored it higher.

But hey, at least it wasn't as bad as clover-field. Thank Christ.

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How much found footage could there possibly be?!

7/10
Author: Markus Emilio Robinson
16 February 2012

Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole I. Ashland

The fact that "Chronicle" does get around the shaky camera effects, which seem to plague these "found footage" films, in a very clever way, is almost worth the price of admission. Directed by Josh Trank, who single handedly saves this film from a "Real World" type of unwatchable teen monotony, aka watching teen boys attempt to talk to girls and cry about how they have no friends or how nobody understands them. As for the visuals, the special effects are what they are. Meaning, not impressive (in fact very corny at times), but since most of the plot is not going for any kind of serious drama, the kind you would find in a superhero movie such as "The Dark Knight", the low quality of the effects aren't played off as anything more than low quality special effects. In fact the only aspect of "Chronicle" that keeps this film from being an instant hit isn't the special effects or the camera work at all; it is the actual story itself.

The premise of "Chronicle" plays out like a storyline off of the debunked television show "Heroes". You have one character who is the most popular guy in High School, another who is the semi-popular jock and lastly you have the loser cousin character, aka the character that gets the short ends of the stick in films like this. In "Chronicle" that character is named Andrew. Well, Andrew's mom is dying, his father is a raging alcoholic who beats him, and over time he has essentially turned himself into that misfit character from "American Beauty", who creepily films everything. OK, so in the movie these guys happen to be at the same house party, where they find a mysterious crater-like hole in a field near the house and decide to explore it. Why? Because they are teenage boys I guess. In it they make a discovery that gives them superpowers, which in turn leads each one of them down very different paths; some darker than others.

The smartest aspect about the plot line itself is that it doesn't try to bore the audience to tears by explaining a long drawn out back-story, about what the origins of the mysterious thing in the mysterious hole that gives the boys said mysterious superpowers. Another thing that works in this plot's favor is how realistic it attempts to be. And before I get comments criticizing me for thinking a movie about teenagers who obtain super powers is realistic, let me stop you right there. I mean realistic in the sense that if a group of actual teenage boys one day received "super powers", it would be highly doubtful that they would try and save the world or anything like that. Chances are your average teenage boy would do just as the adolescents in "Chronicle" did; that is, fly around for no reason other than to see what it's like, blow cheerleaders skirts up, and throw baseballs at each other's faces in order to see if they could stop the baseball with their minds. Interesting stuff right? Well, for a while it is. But with that realistic feel, eventually comes with it the downfall of "Chronicle". When it becomes apparent that the characters are not going to help anybody or do anything of note (with their powers) in certain instances, the story does become bland and or lackluster. To be fair, the climax does become more conventional and over dramatized, in a Marvel-ish style, which most audiences may enjoy a lot more than the first half of the film.

With all of that said, the biggest reason that "Chronicle" works is because of the camera work. It is as simple as that. If you are hesitant to see this film because you think "Chronicle" is going to contain lose-your-lunch visuals resembling "Cloverfield" or "I can't see what's going on" visuals resembling "The Blair Witch Project" or "The Devil Inside", then you can lay your fears to rest because this film contains none of that, while still maintaining its hand-held camera integrity. How does it do that you ask? Well, you have to watch the movie to find out. I know, lame right?

Final Thought: The camera work is substantially more impressive than any story "Chronicle" has to tell. And while it is, for the most part, semi-entertaining, at the end of the day most of "Chronicle" feels like an underdeveloped, teenage, MTV version of "Unbreakable". Plus, if you are expecting some kind of origins story, with a stylish comic book, saving the world, hero vs. villain likability, viewer beware: "Chronicle" is in no way that. But if you go in with an open mind, "Chronicle" is sure to surprise most, as (if nothing more) an impressive spin on the seemingly played out hand-held, found footage, faux-documentary genre.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Insane

8/10
Author: r_massey
21 February 2015

There isn't much I have to say about "Chronicle" other than the fact that I found it fresh, intriguing, tragic and captivating.

The relationship between the three main protagonists, though odd at first, feels genuine and is a testament to the performances by the actors; their interactions are typical of teenagers, making them all the more relatable. Following their journey through the 'found footage' aids in this achievement, getting a nice insight into the personal lives of these characters. This intimacy is also what sets this film apart from simply falling into the 'superhero' movie genre and even amidst the science-fiction/fantasy aspects to the movie, the whole experience can be treated as quite realistic if such events were to happen. Going off this basis, the climax is pretty insane, but in a great way; just when you think the found footage perspective is getting tiring, it once again brings this third act to a personal level and the presentation of action is unlike anything I've ever seen. There is no musical score in the background to force us to feel like we're experiencing something truly 'epic' in the third act, as one commonly finds in a sci-fi/superhero film, as it is the cast performances and suspense created by some of the alarming visuals that ultimately create this effect.

I can understand why there may be some mixed feelings towards the film, especially with the choice of found footage to drive the narrative, but I feel that "Chronicle" tells the compelling story that it wants to tell through both tragedy and marvel. Bearing in mind that this is a low budget film, its ramifications noticeable in the CGI (though this is something you soon get used to and actually come to praise), I would definitely recommend "Chronicle" for anyone interested in a fresh take on the science-fiction and superhero genre.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Chronicle

7/10
Author: Jackson Booth-Millard from United Kingdom
25 November 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I heard a little about this film after it had finished its run in the cinemas, I knew it involved either superheroes or people gaining superpowers, and then I heard about how the film is structured, kind of like Cloverfield, so I was hoping critics mostly positive reviews would prove correct. Basically in Seattle, shy, lonely and outcast teenager Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan) has no friends, is bullied at high school student and lives with abusive alcoholic Richard (Michael Kelly) and terminally ill mother Karen (Bo Petersen), and wanting to express his creative side he buys himself an high quality HD video camera to chronicle his everyday life. Andrew's cousin Matt Garetty (Alex Russell) takes him to a party with schoolmate Steve Montgomery (Michael B. Jordan), while there they overhear a loud noise and go to investigate it, they find a large hole in the ground of a field, exploring the underground they find an alien source, and following a blackout they find the next day or two that they have acquired superpowers, including telekinesis, flight and superhuman strength, Andrew captures many of their abilities experiments on camera. Slowly their integrity is tested as they find disagreements with each other and become irresponsible, particularly Andrew who becomes the most powerful of the trio, but unlike them he also becomes easily tempered and dangerous, Steve is killed when struck by lightning while flying in the sky and trying to console him in a moment of frustration. Andrew's mother's incurable cancer worsens and she needs a medicine that he cannot afford, so he uses his powers to steal mother, but he is too late and she dies, and that is when he really snaps and goes into a mad rage of destruction, and Matt, vowing to use his powers for good, is the only one who can stop him, they have a turbulent fight, and in the end Matt has no choice but to kill Andrew, and he flies away in the end with Andrew's camera, leaving it behind in Tibet after one final recording. Also starring Ashley Hinshaw as Casey Letter, Anna Wood as Monica, Joe Vaz as Michael Ernesto and Rudi Malcolm as Wayne. You can argue that this is nothing original, characters gaining superpowers, some turning nasty and the others going against them as the force for good, but the "found footage" element from characters' perspectives adds a little twist and makes it a bit more interesting to watch, and of course the special effects and action sequences are impressive and make it flow nicely, overall a watchable science-fiction drama. Very good!

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Hey, what did Jung say about glow sticks?

7/10
Author: tieman64 from United Kingdom
17 November 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"You're looking into their eyes, you feel that last bit of breath leaving their body; a person in that situation is God." - Ted Bundy

Directed by Josh Trank, "Chronicle" follows three high school seniors as they inexplicably develop super powers. One of these students, Andrew (Dane DeHaan), begins to abuse his gifts.

Though it owes a lot to comic-book superheroes, "Chronicle" plays best as a look into the psyche of teenage spree killers. Andrew is an outcast, bullied, feels impotent, has an abusive father, is mocked for his sexual inadequacies and has a pair of symbolically castrated parents. A ball of pent-up aggression, Andrew's newfound powers, like a pair of guns hastily purchased at Wallmart, allow him to violently lash out. The film climaxes with Andrew murdering a number of fellow students and civilians. If disrespect breeds violence, then, like many of the world's youngest school shooters, Andrew's the expected outcome of very specific forces. The film thus presents, not only the flip-side to your typical Marvel/DC hero, but an interesting discussion on power and agency and how victims internalise hate and become perpetrators themselves.

"Chronicle", incidentally, is also a "found footage" film. Though such faux documentaries are now commonplace, Trank manages to keep things fresh. Unlike most in its genre, the film is well shot, cut and composed. Often imaginative, it puts many of its big-budget siblings to shame.

7.9/10 – See "Elephant" (2003), "Targets" (1968) and "Akira".

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Surprised at how much I enjoyed this movie

8/10
Author: coastin_on_a_dream from California
26 January 2014

I am usually not a fan of these "found footage" movies. Some are good, but most seem to be cheap gimmicks. They aren't expensive to make, but they make a lot of money, so studios churn these out hoping to make a quick buck, and they put in very little effort, so the end result is a bad movie.

Chronicle is different though. The found footage concept is obviously nothing new, but the movie has a great screenwriter and actually has a good cast of main actors. The dialogue is believable, the characters are likable, and the actors have great chemistry with each other. You actually care about the journey they go on. The story is basically a superhero villain's origin story. His name is Andrew. He's very troubled; he's bullied, his mother is chronically ill, his father is an abusive alcoholic, and he's lonely. It's easy to see how he goes off the rails later in the movie and abuses his new found superpowers. He's so tragically misguided and sad, and as an audience, we feel sympathy for him.

Although we see everything from Andrew's POV, the audience also identifies with Matt, his cousin and the closest person he has to a best friend. Matt is the most normal one, and as Andrew begins to lose his grip on reality, we identify with Matt because he sees things objectively and wants to take a step back and figure out what is going on.

What really helps the movie is that the main characters are so well developed and likable. I went into this movie expecting a movie about stupid teenagers destroying things were their telekinetic powers, but it gave the audience much more than that.

Overall, this movie was well worth the money. I do wish they had fleshed out a few things, story-wise, but I think the idea was to leave it open for a sequel. They created a nice story and there's much to be explored. I would highly recommend this movie because the entertainment value is so high.

I give this a solid 8/10.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Smart and sprightly indie take on the superhero genre

7/10
Author: eatfirst from United Kingdom
30 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A smart, indie-spirited superhero movie that asks the question (admittedly not for the first time), what would really happen if ordinary people developed superpowers, but handles the result with more wit and emotional punch than the premise might suggest.

Three teenagers, after an unexplained encounter with something...well, something, find themselves in possession of some form of telekinetic ability which manifests mildly at first, and is the cause of much entertaining japery, but soon develops into something with far more alarming strength.

The three leads all perform extremely well with what are largely archetypes; the bullied loner and the popular cool kid for example, and build an engaging relatable friendship that goes beyond high school movie cliché, even while the movie indulges in some of that genres most well-worn tropes (school hall bullies, problem fathers, trying to get laid at parties). What feels at first to be rather over-familiar works as an effective piece of audience wrong-footing, as the movie then makes a lurch into darker, more dramatic, and genuinely original territory.

The conceit of all this playing out through selfie home video footage is a somewhat peculiar choice, becoming an unnecessary millstone to the production as the third act requires every police officer and bystander alike to be blessed with Roger Deakins levels of camera control. But this oddity aside, Chronicle is a breeze. Moving from charming hi-jinx to an efficiently devastating finale in less running time than it takes for Bilbo to get all those dwarfs out of the kitchen.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Not a regular super-hero film

8/10
Author: devilskinn from Cluj-Napoca, Romania
29 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I started watching the film with the sense that I would be falling asleep twenty minutes into it. It was night, I was tired and the title was boring. A few seconds later, my interest was awaken by the uncomfortable and troubling opening scene in Andrew's house - one of the protagonists. His father, an abusive alcoholic (at some time in the story it is divulged that he is also unemployed), is trying to forcibly get himself into his son's room, but can't because Andrew previously locked his door and is now announcing that he will be recording everything that happens to him.

And this is indeed how we get to see the film, through the lenses of different cameras, which, despite being one of my least favorite types of filming, greatly enhances the authenticity of the scenes and the likability of the main characters. Three high-school boys, Andrew, Matt and Steve, who could not be any more dissimilar, will soon be brought together by a scary, odd and yet fascinating experience from which they inexplicably emerge super-naturally powerful. Probably the best scenes in the film are the ones in which the three teenage boys discover the extent of their power and the fact that it increases through constant practice. Even if one could obviously not relate to the occurrence as such, it easy to understand their giddy reactions and adolescent pranks.

This seemingly unrehearsed display of powers, casts light unto their personalities and hints to their respective role in the group. Without being a nominated leader, Andrew is the strongest one and, unfortunately, the least controllable. He gradually turns very dark, even homicidal, especially due to his problematic family situation (his raging father, dying mother and almost no financial resources), but also as a result of constantly feeling like an outcast. Steve is the most popular of the trio, easy-going and caring. Sadly, he falls victim to one of Andrew's rage attacks, an incident which marks the precipitation of the latter's downfall. Matt, Andrew's cousin, is the reasonable type, ready to obey self-imposed rules which should help them avoid hurting themselves and others. He is the one left to stop his friend, now turned into a chaotic and unscrupulous villain, and will do so with much remorse.

The three actors play their part convincingly, attracting the admiration and affection of the viewer. There are a few issues that remain unresolved throughout the plot, but it does little to taint the overall effect. This is a good film!

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