A review by Jevron McCrory
Okay, I haven't posted on this blog in a very long time but the movie this post concerns just had me so inspired, so motivated, so downright BLOWN AWAY that I had to write a review.
Chronicle isn't that recent a film.
(It just came out on DVD in the UK, which is how I finally managed to watch/experience it).
I saw the previews for it hitting our limey cinemas, thought it looked interesting, then thought nothing more about it.
How I wish I could go back and see this on the big screen!
Chronicle is the epitome of breathtaking cinema!
Taking an almost cliched, unoriginal concept and giving it a sincere, 'kiss-of-life' (whilst kicking the superhero genre in the balls), Chronicle tells the story of three male high school teenagers who gain the gift of telekinesis.
And that's it. That's the concept. Simple, eh?
Take one loser who's never accomplished anything through sheer laziness, Matt Garetty (Alex Russell), one incredibly popular, high school president-potential, Steve Montgomery (Michael B Jordan) and one 'natural victim,' abused by his alcoholic father, classmates and local neighbourhood toughs alike, Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHann), give them telekinesis from a foreign, glowing, multi-spiked object buried deep in a Seattle woodlands, and watch the inevitable fireworks, of which there are plenty.
The movie is quick to keep it's story reality based, as if it's 'camcorder style' filming wasn't enough (this is different to Blair Witch territory. This is NOT a found footage film. There's a 'social workers' reason why Andrew was filming everything, prior to gaining powers), yet comes up with a novel excuse for top class direction (the main character directing the movie, using a camera through telekinesis? I think thats a first in cinema history).
Everything that is captured by the camera immediately becomes plausible. Acting that feels so real, it no longer resembles acting (pretty sure there's an early scene where the actor playing Andrew's father actually hits him for real), CG so subtly blended with live action that sometimes you're hard pressed to tell the difference, a story so grounded that when the characters finally leave such ground (oh yeah, these boys eventually learn how to FLY!), you are more than happy to join them for the ride. Belief? Consider yourself suspended!
It's here, at this critical gravity defying juncture, that Chronicle goes from impressive cinema to essential viewing, as the receiving of these powers goes from being a prank inciting gift (and learning that with focus, they are now impermeable to pain) to a life threatening curse. Slowly, meticulously scripted, the boys start to struggle with their talents. Well, maybe just one.
At the centre of such drama is Andrew Detmer, a victim so helpless to the abuse he has suffered for so long that when he finally gets a chance to get his own back, he struggles with how far he should go. (After viewing the early scenes of harsh abuse he suffers, I found myself congratulating his early self restraint, restraint that eventually subsides to an offensive physical preternatural rage rarely seen on screen).
The movie, like the boys' 'gifts,' goes from strength to strength as it tests loyalties, friendships, the ideals of predator and prey, justice, responsibility (forget Spiderman's 'With strength comes great responsiblilty' morale, these boys could take out whole city blocks at a whim if so inclined), leading to such a dramatic climax it feels partially over-the-top upon first time viewing. Considering the restraint shown in the early reels, it makes for perfect storytelling, not only giving a physical, visual climax worth applauding but an emotional epilogue so satisfying I was deeply, sincerely moved.
(I am trying desperately not to give away any spoilers. The less you know, the better the viewing experience. Damn internet).
Chronicle is what I would call a 'jack-of-all-trades flick.
Not content to merely surprise you with relevatory CG setpieces, of which there are many (the boys learning to fly is a particular highlight and worth the rental/purchase price alone, not forgetting a severely traumatised Andrew crushing a car with merely the power of thought), we get beautifully rendered, multi-dimensional scripted characters, a tautly scripted plot, a masterclass in acting exercises (all praise worthy but specific accolades must go to Dane (Andrew) DeHann who, at times reminded me so much of Leonardo DiCaprio in The Basketball Diaries that it was spooky!), realistic violence, an ill-fated love story, slapstick comedy, grittiness so dirty you may tense up and an imagination on show so vivid, it makes me wonder how it achieved so much on such a minimal Hollywood budget (13 million I think? Minimal by Hollywood's standards).
This goes into my Top Ten Best Movies with a bullet, albeit a telekinetically manipulated one.
So who's an apex predator, eh?