Canister X Movie Review #24: Chronicle (2012)
Written by Max Landis
Directed by Josh Trank
Runtime 84 min.
5 out of 5
Andrew Detmer’s got a tough life: he’s bullied at school, his mom’s dying of cancer, and his dad is an alcoholic. Andrew also likes to film things and his friend, Steve, gets him to film something him and Matt have found in the woods: a strange deep hole with a weird blue crystalline object inside it. After the boys develop telekinetic abilities, all bets are off as they discover exactly what they are capable of. The problem, however, is that with great power comes great temptation and Andrew begins to discover not only the extent of his power but what is deep inside of him. Soon, the group of friends are divided and one has gone off the deep end.
This movie is the boss. This is very much in the vein of Unbreakable, that is, the story of people pre-superhero or pre-supervillain, how they got their abilities, the discovery of their powers, the honing of them, and the ultimate decision as to what to do with them.
Filmed via “shaky cam” documentary style, Chronicle looks like a home movie but carries the strong story and special effects of a major blockbuster. Actually, it has a stronger story than most major blockbusters, but that’s another topic. This flick is completely down-to-earth despite its out-of-this-world premise. By doing it documentary style, the character development of Andrew (Dane DeHaan), Steve (Michael B. Jordan) and Matt (Alex Russell) is through the roof and you care about each one, hope for each one, and get mad at each one when they do something you think you wouldn’t do yourself. Well done, boys. Well done.
Telekinesis is the name of the game in this movie, that is, the ability to move and control things with your mind. While we’ve seen this power on screen before, this flick really gets into the potential of that ability from simply causing objects to float all the way to making yourself fly. Telekinesis would be the power to choose if one was presented with it because the majority of superpowers can ultimately come from it: flight, strength, stopping objects from hitting you, forcing bad guys to stop their actions, and more.
What makes this flick stand out is its intense study into what having such an incredible power does to a person, whether for good or ill. This is something we seldom see in standard superhero cinema as usually you got the hero or villain get their powers and already start using them based on their personality or because of how they’re raised, or they are used a certain way because of a recent event. This flick asks the question—even answers it—does absolute power corrupt absolutely?
I’ve never seen a documentary-style superhero movie before. Correction: I’ve never seen a documentary-style superhero/villain origin movie before and I am curious if others exist. Will have to track them down because I thoroughly enjoyed Chronicle, was captivated by it, and it brings a level of realism to the material that even your most-seriously-attempted-at-realism superhero movies can’t portray. It’s about everyday people suddenly getting a powerful ability with everyday people reactions, temptations, and usages.
Such a well done flick. So good. You need to see this. What Blair Witch did for horror Chronicle does for the superhero genre.