HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Starring: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan
Directed by: Josh Trank
Written by: Max Landis
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Main Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD MA
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Runtime: 84 Minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: May 15th, 2012
HTS Overall Score:80
Let me start off this review by saying that I HATE lost camera footage movies for the most part. Some are acceptable and fun like "Cloverfield", while others are purely atrocious, such as "Paranormal Activity", "The Blair Witch Project" or "The Devil Inside". With that out of the way, I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised by "Chronicle". I went into it expecting another run of the mill, shaky-cam ridden film that's only draw is to either shock you with cheap scares or seem "gritty." "Chronicle" does have the shaky-cam element detrimental to most lost camera footage flicks, but it's much less nausea inducing than expected and doesn't distract from the main story. From the description on the back cover it seems we're watching a sci-fi/super hero origins film, but in truth "Chronicle" is a morality tale. A tale of what happens to people when they are given enormous power in a short span of time. How will they grow? Will they grow together or apart? How does their own internal struggles and flaws dictate how that power is used?
The film starts by introducing one of the 3 main protagonists, Andrew (Dane DeHaan), a shy and often bullied teenager forced to watch his mother die from a terminal illness and have his abusive, drunkard of a father smack him around. Andrew escapes from the pain of reality by buying a cheap 2004 era camera and begins filming everything around him, psychologically distancing himself from the world by placing that camera between himself and the abuse heaped upon him. His only real relationship, besides his mother, is a tenuous friendship with his cousin Matt (Alex Russell), a pot smoking wannabee philosopher who waxes eloquent about life while being the stereotypical slacker. Matt and Andrew head out to a party in an old, abandoned farm building and with the help of Matt's friend Steve (Michael B. Jordan) discover a strange cave with this glowing rock. During the course of their investigation of the rock the earth begins to quake and the boys barely make it out with their lives. Days later we learn that whatever was in that cave gave the boys telekinetic powers. The boys soon become bound together with the shared experience of being the only people on earth with such powers and set out to start "flexing" their telekinetic muscles so to speak. It starts out simple enough, building Legos with nothing but their mind, tossing baseballs around the backyard and catching them psychically, but being teenagers it soon escalates into pranks. Nothing damaging at first, just flipping up a girls skirt with a leaf blower and having a runaway cart in the middle of grocery store (I mean seriously, if you or I had those powers as a teenager tell me you wouldn't want to have a little fun with them), but that all ends when Andrew sends an impatiently honking trunk careening over a guardrail and into the lake that the film takes a more serious note.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8669[/img]It's obvious at this point that Andrew's psychological issues are starting to surface and manifest with his newly given powers. Matt and Steve try to give him advice and reign him in, but Andrew's lust for power and revenge on the people who have tormented him his whole life supersedes all. With such power at his fingertips, he's more than capable of defending himself against his abusive father and even more capable of throwing him through a wall. When Steve tries to step in and help, poor Andrew strikes out, accidentally killing him. At this point in the film, Andrew is by no means blindly lashing out: he's become cold and methodical while reading evolutionary material about apex predators (a being that is at the tip top of the food chain in the ecosystem). Even through all this he tries to help his mother get the medicine she so desperately needs (albeit in a much more Machiavellian way than his prior mousy self would have done) and ends up in the hospital due to an explosion. Awakening to his father screaming hatefully down on him Andrew goes into a psychotic rage, destroying everything and everyone around him. Matt now realizes that his previous actions of indecision and drug induced psycho babble are of no help here and has to man up and try to stop Andrew.
As I said before, "Chronicle" is more a morality tale than a true Science Fiction film. We have 3 completely different people all given a great "gift," and we are shown just how each person handles that power. Steve is the happy go lucky character who's main goal is to enjoy life and have fun with his powers. Andrew is an abused and broken boy who finds out that he can't handle the power that's been given him, while Matt has to come to grips with his powers and instead of letting it control him, mature and grow in order to not let that power consume him. I had to give props to Josh Trank, who only being 28 years old directed a first rate coming of age story.
Rated PG-13 for intense action and violence, thematic material, some language, sexual content and teen drinking
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8666[/img]Thanks to the Arri Alexa digital camera used for about 90% of the film, we are presented with a fantastically crisp and clear digital image. The first 14 minutes were shot on a cheap 2004 era digital camera which provides us with all the nasty effects of yesteryear, including haloing, compression artifacts and horrible aliasing. Fortunately for the viewers, Andrew loses that camera in a cave-in at the 14 minute mark and buys a $500 digital camera which provides us with the beautiful picture that we see for the rest of the film. (Somehow I doubt a $500 camera could provide the crystal clarity that the 10's of thousands of dollars Arri Alexa provides the viewers with, but there always has to be some element in a film where we're meant to suspend belief for a while). Blacks are clean and colors are extremely accurate. This is one of those pictures where you literally feel like you'er looking through a window watching the characters. The ONLY negative thing I have to say about the transfer is video noise that tends to be very prevalent during dark scenes, but that is something one has to live with when shooting all digital instead of using film.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8668[/img]The audio for "Chronicle" was just as exquisite as the video was. Being that we're dealing with "lost footage" here, the audio techs over at Fox studios did a fantastic job at cleaning up the audio and creating an aural paradise to which we can listen. Everything was captured flawlessly, from the simplest sound of a footstep crunching across gravel to the sounds of wind whipping through the boy's jackets as they fly at near sub sonic speeds through the atmosphere. The channel separation was what really captured my attention, though. There were several scenes that I literally almost FELT like an object went careening by me due to it shifting so naturally and clearly between front to rear. Now lets not forget what most people eagerly wait to hear about.... the LFE. The low frequency emissions were some of the best I'd heard (and felt) in a very long time. I'm not just talking about the output my subs gave me, but rather the depth as well; there were times when I literally felt the hairs and my arms tremble due to subsonic frequencies being pushed through those babies. Not only was there bass and lots of it, but it was nice and clean bass, no boomy muddied mess for this film. For someone who is a complete and total sound junkie this track was pure heaven.
• Theatrical Cut/ Unrated Extended Cut
• Deleted Scenes
• Camera Test
"Chronicle" was definitely different than expected. While having some flaws (one of which was that for a "lost" footage film, we actually see footage from a myriad of cameras, including security footage from various locations, and images from a camera that was supposedly buried in the first 15 minutes of the film), Josh Trank supplied us with a fun, and very emotionally relatable movie. Matt, Steve and Andrew all seemed extremely real, I could easily see them as fitting in to just about any highschool I've ever seen without seeming out of place. I went in expecting another cheesy shock flick like "Blair Witch" or "Paranormal Activity", but came out seeing something truly unique. Definitely worth watching at least once, even if you aren't too fond of the filming techniques.
Recommendation: Watch It