Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan), his cousin Matt Garetty (Alex Russell) and best friend Steve Montgomery (Michael B. Jordan) stumble upon a strange object in a cave near their neighbourhood and through it gain weird telekinesis powers. At first playing pranks on locals, the boys’ intentions and powers become darker, until the day Andrew, the introvert flips and lashes out at everyone.
I really like this film. I haven’t seen it at the theatre and didn’t know what to expect. Of course it uses the old handycam point of view trick and that was probably what detracted the most from the film. Chronicle has the aesthetics of a cheap independent film but really has Hollywood budget to dish out marvelous flying scenes, as the boys learn to fly.
If you’re a comic book reader, you’ve seen this story before. In fact, if you know about Akira, you’ve seen this movie before. One of the kids becomes stronger than the other and it’s up to the other two to stop him. Still, what made this film great for me were the jokes and the pranks the boys were playing on people. I’ve rewatched a couple of scenes and I just crack up every time I see that little girl being chased by a giant teddy bear.
By using only material available from filmed recordings the film cuts some exploratory scenes that probably would have dragged it pitifully into long explanations. So there are no scenes explaining how they came out of the cave or how they first discovered their powers. Early on, director Josh Trank establishes that any camera is game as a way to build the story. Thus Matt’s girlfriend who is also obsessed by cameras serves as a counterpoint to Andrew’s filmed monologue.
This story will be particularly interesting to comic book readers. I would venture that even if this film was not very popular at the box office, it was has the ultimate Marvel revisionist streak that we can also see in films like Kick Ass and comics like Nemesis, but done much better. We don’t really go into the super hero mode although there are a lot of super hero and Peter Parker with great powers come great responsibility moments. It’s not overdone or moralistic in any way. The kids are really kids. Actually, I was surprised to learn that they are much older than what they appear to be on screen.
If this was a super hero movie, I’d rank it above most of them and Hancock which is its closest cousin. I got the DVD version for review so cannot discuss the deleted scenes which are not included. The extras showed some animatics previews and test shots with stand in actors. I wish more had been said about the behind the scene of this movie. Expect a sequel.