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Movie Reviews




Released: 1st February 2012 (UK)

Director: Josh Trank

Stars: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordon

Certificate: 12A

Reviewer: Lewis Filer


It’s not often that when leaving the cinema after watching a film, the phrase ‘it blew my mind’ is uttered.

After saying that, it is this phrase that i would use to describe 2012’s latest ‘found footage’ romp ‘Chronicle’
A low budget super-hero type film that follows three teenage boys who have telekinetic powers bestowed upon then. Chronicle cleverly fuses genuinely funny humour, close to home drama, explosive action, teenage romance and pretty much every genre you could think of into one epic super-movie. (pun intended)

Without a doubt, both Marvel and DC now have a serious contender in the battle of 2012’s year of superhero movies.

Chronicle follows the story of tormented teenager Andrew (Dane Deehan), who buys a camera to document his life. Regularly bullied in school and beaten by an alcoholic father, Andrew aims to film everything that happens to him on a day to day basis. He also cares for his ill bedridden mother who cannot survive without regular help and medicine that the family are too poor to afford. Andrew’s cousin Matt (Alex Russell) is his only friend in the world and one of the popular kids at school who doesn’t like to be seen in public with Andrew. Despite this, Matt persuades Andrew to come to a rave in an abandoned barn in the woods.
After an incident resulting in Andrew getting hit by a guy for accidently filming his girlfriend, he goes outside to be alone. Steven (Michael B. Jordan), class president and friend of Matt’s comes to see if Andrew is okay, and begins to tell him about something that he and Matt have found in the woods. Reluctant at first and cautious that it may just be another attempt to bully him, Andrew follows Steven to find Matt. When they arrive at a clearing, they see a deep hole in the ground that gives off a strange sound and eventually the three boys climb into it to investigate. Upon entering the hole, they are greeted by what seems to be a giant alien crystal of some sorts that begins to glow and cause the boys nose bleeds. The cave starts to collapse and the camera goes black.
The next scene we see the boys testing out a strange new Star Wars’ Force like telepathic power that they have aquired from the encounter in the cave. Soon they begin to master their powers and use them to do all sorts of amazing things including the ability to fly or even just to play pranks on the general public. But as the old saying goes, ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ they soon learn that these powers can be used for more than harmless fun. With Andrew’s life at home and bullying at school getting worse, he discovers that there is a whole darker side to these abilities that with the quick mastery of his powers, only he is capable of.

Chronicle is by far the most original use of the found footage genre i have seen in a film. Filmed through the use of handheld cameras and later on security cameras, phones, television cameras and pretty much anything with a camera really, it adds an extra sense of realism to the film which is what a found footage film relies on to trick it’s audience into believing what they are seeing on screen. The most ingenius method of filming that impressed me was Andrew’s mastered ability to make his camera float behind him while being able to concentrate on other things. With this added fourth wall illusion we get to see Andrew in many scenes where in most films of this genre, the person recording is very rarely seen.
Throughout three quarters of the movie, we are only seeing through two main cameras, Andrew’s and occasionally Matt’s love interest Casey (Ashley Hinshaw) who is also recording day to day life but for her online blog. From the inevitable point in the movie when Andrew dramatically turns to the dark side of the force (yes that pun was intended too) we begin to see through a mulitude of the different cameras mentioned which help make the epic finale more believable.

With a heavy advertising campaign including a brilliant viral video of people flying in New York and a low budget of $15 million, Chronicle surpassed expectations and created a slick movie that shows if the budget is used correctly, anything can be done.

The special effects were brilliant, not perfect, as at times you know that there is blatently a cgi coating on a few things such as some of the flying scenes but in no way is this a big issue. The finale that takes place in the streets and skies of the city of Seattle more than make up for this as the special effects could rival even the biggest of contenders such as Cloverfield.

The opening scene in which we see Andrew setting up the camera to document his dad’s alcohol fueled abuse sets the film up be more than just the fun filled super-hero movie that the trailers have shown. The emotions that you feel for Andrew are genuine and this comes down to the superb acting by newcomer Deehan who instantly grabs your heart in the first 2 minutes of the movie. Watching him go through all the abuse and bullying only makes you care for him and like him more even when you know what he will eventually become later in the film. The scene where Andrew’s dad bursts into his room and punches him to the ground for no reason was for me, quite shocking and followed by a close to tears Andrew climbing back up into the camera’s view would almost break even the manliest of hearts. This is because Chronicle plays on real issues that real people go through. Andrew’s alcoholic and abusive dad will almost certainly relate to some members of the audience who are going through the same thing. Andrew’s ill mother and his inability to help her is a major piece of his downfall and is also a relatable subject for many people caring for sick parents. The bullying Andrew suffers with in school is something else that happens to many kids in school and is shown exactly how it happens. With all of these issues, it’s no wonder why Andrew decides to use these powers for revenge, and as mentioned earlier, even though the audience know Andrew is building himself up to become the ‘super-villain’ Deehan’s portrayal of the troubled teenager has you rooting for him as he confronts his wrong do-ers one by one.

Essentially, what director Josh Trank has done, is create a superb piece of film that is accessible to anyone. Even with its tame 12A certificate, it really shows the product of great film-making that doesn’t need filth, unneccessary foul language and over the top gore to grasp it’s audience’s attention.

By far the best film of 2012 at the moment, Chronicle is both mind blowing and an outstanding player in what’s shaping up to be the best year for cinema ever. I urge you all to get down (or fly if you have some powers of your own) to your local cinema and get in on what for me, is one of the best cinematic experiences i have ever had.

25 year old film fanatic who loves rock music, Xbox and cat videos on Youtube. I also tweet @lewisvstheworld

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