Group of teens discover that they have powers. One goes nuts and power hungry and the others have to take him out.
Quite honestly, the premise of the movie sounds like a guy superhero version of The Craft. If you saw the trailers, you’d be forgiven for thinking that. And, to be fair, the predictability of the story is the weakest part of the film. Having said that, don’t be too quick to dismiss Chronicle.
This is one of those cases where the trailer actually doesn’t quite match up to the depth of the movie. For one thing, Chronicle is actually quite a dark film. The story revolves around Andrew, a boy whose mother is terminally ill and his drunken father beats him. Bullied at school, Andrew hides behind a video camera, and then later in front of it, using it as a shield to keep people away.
Did I mention that this movie is shot from the point of view of other people’s camera lenses? It’s not a found-footage film per se. However, director Josh Trank takes great pains to utilize whatever cameras or camera phones are available in the scene. It can be distracting at times. He takes some liberty with the format, but overall you can tell he put some thought into it.
When Andrew and two other teens discover a mysterious object buried in the dirt (which is never fully explained) they find that the object has given them mysterious new telepathic powers. At first, they use it for punk teen antics such as moving a woman’s parked car. Soon however, their powers grow and they’re able to fly. This is one of the more realistic depictions of flying in superhero movies. They’re bundled up, they have to shout to be heard, and in what is one of my favourite scenes, they almost get run over when a jumbo jet breaks through the clouds.
As you might imagine, the characters bond over their shared experiences. Even so, Andrew still keeps himself at a distance. He still has a terrible home life. His understandably deep-seated anger gives way to powers that are stronger and more emotionally charged than his friends. This quickly becomes his undoing, beginning with a scene in which he accidentally ends up putting a road rage-y driver in the hospital.
Things spiral out of control until an inevitable, jaw-dropping confrontation occurs along the Seattle skyline. Did I mention that this movie only had a 12 million dollar budget? Yet the fight scene is easily on par with superhero films that cost in the hundreds of millions. Cars get slung at the space needle while tourists film the fight on their phones; a metro bus gets tossed about like a ball.
It’s impressive stuff. It’s also gut wrenching. Andrew isn’t your typical moustache-twirling bad guy. The pacing and the well developed friendship is such that you feel for his friends who know he must be stopped even though they don’t want to hurt him.
So is Chronicle predictable? A little. And there’s some suspension of disbelief required. However, it’s certainly enjoyable. In fact, my only big quibble is that they shot it in South Africa and Canada instead of right here in the Emerald City. But I suppose that’s how you get this level of action on such a small budget!