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Overall Rating
3.96

Awesome34.62%
Worth A Look: 30.77%
Average: 30.77%
Pretty Bad: 3.85%
Total Crap: 0%

3 reviews, 8 user ratings


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Chronicle
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Don't overlook it."
5 stars

Found-footage movies are hot, and superhero movies are hot, so I imagine "Chronicle" — a found-footage superhero movie — being an easy pitch to the studio. The surprise is how serious and emotionally true the film turns out to be.

Chronicle follows three high-school boys who stumble upon some sort of glowing object down a deep, dark hole; their proximity to it gives them telekinetic powers. The events are videotaped by Andrew (Dane DeHaan), a mopey kid with a miserable home life. Andrew’s cousin Matt (Alex Russell) and the popular kid Steve (Michael B. Jordan) at first have fun with their newfound abilities, making things — and eventually themselves — float around. But things get dark fast. This amazing power has been delivered into the hands of three basically good kids, which is fortunate for us all, but Andrew is beginning to crack.

Spurred on by rage, grief and panic, Andrew begins to do dumb, destructive things. Many in the audience may question why he doesn’t do this or that. In response I can only quote a nifty line from Stephen Hunter’s novel Dirty White Boys, describing a scared guy who freezes at a bad moment: “His mind was full of spiders and firecrackers.” Andrew is dealing with an alcoholic dad — a firefighter on disability — and a dying mom, whose much-needed pain meds his dad can’t begin to afford. This is stark stuff for a teenage superhero movie. It explains Andrew’s gradual transformation into a supervillain, and the good-hearted Matt and Steve, who have less complicated lives, try and fail to pull him back from his worst instincts. Why should Andrew try to do good — or try not to do evil — in this world? All it’s ever given him is pain.

Chronicle was made for $15 million by two 26-year-old newcomers — director Josh Trask and screenwriter Max Landis (son of “Master of Horror” John Landis), who concocted the story together. It’s a fine calling card, with echoes of Akira as well as standard superhero-origin tales. Set in Seattle (but filmed primarily in Vancouver), the film looks glum and realistic — workable and believable soil out of which the fantastic can flower. The young actors swing from exuberance to fear with ease. After a while, Andrew’s camera is held aloft telekinetically so that we can see more; I wasn’t always convinced that the camera would be catching certain events so clearly, but by the climax, where the action becomes both exhilarating and terrifying, I didn’t much care.

The finale, indeed, makes a lot of what we’ve seen in much more expensive superhero films look stupid. Again, it’s all grounded in identifiable and intense emotions, with untold collateral damage that reminded me of the horrific destruction in an infamous issue of Alan Moore’s Miracleman comic. (If you’re familiar with it, you know what I mean; if not, don’t worry about it.) It’s the first movie since maybe Superman II that made me feel how frightening it might be to get caught between two gods in battle. Andrew, stooped over and burned and wearing a hospital gown, looks like an evil mutant, while Matt is Superman in jeans.

The very end is a little facile, and points too eagerly toward a sequel, but that doesn’t seriously lessen the impact of a film that may well give this summer’s "The Avengers" — whose trailer before this movie already looks so been-there-done-that — a run for its (big) money.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=22434&reviewer=416
originally posted: 02/05/12 08:42:25
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User Comments

1/19/13 Ionicera surprisingly good but marred by cliched ending 4 stars
6/22/12 djdjehfhehgjdhejfdjjfhgfgjf chang A very talented cast and overall worth watching. Sequel! 5 stars
6/19/12 Z A smart movie that blends superheroes with the real teenager's angst 5 stars
5/06/12 ACTION MOVIE FAN FAIRLY INTERESTING TEENS GET SUPER POWERS-CLIMATIC MASS DESTRUCTION OF CITY HELPS SAVE IT 3 stars
2/21/12 Ry Poor Story. Very slow. No purpose. 2 stars
2/12/12 M A bit short and rushed, but well worth watching for finale alone 3 stars
2/08/12 PAUL SHORTT SMART, ENTERTAINING, INVENTIVE THRILLER WITH GOOD PERFORMANCES 4 stars
2/06/12 Quigley Raises the bar of its genre. Better than any superhero film released in quite a while. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  03-Feb-2012 (PG-13)
  DVD: 15-May-2012

UK
  N/A

Australia
  03-Feb-2012
  DVD: 15-May-2012


Directed by
  Josh Trank

Written by
  John Landis
  Max Landis

Cast
  Dane DeHaan



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