Sam: The directorial debut of Josh Trank, Chronicle is a found footage film in the style of Cloverfield that follows the lives of three adolescents who happen upon a mysterious object that grants them telekinetic powers. The story unfolds as a realistic take on how everyday youths might wrestle with such abilities, whether it be by playing pranks or, eventually, taking flight. Things don’t go swimmingly however, as lonesome Andrew harbours pent-up resentment that explodes in the film’s superior second half.
For anyone who’s ever dreamed of flying or mused over what they’d do with superpowers (which is most people I’d imagine) there’s a simple joy to the wish fulfilment of the proceedings. Certain sequences such as the climactic throwdown are terrific, and the screenplay does a good job of establishing the core characters and building tension. I thought the unknown actors were convincing, and the unorthodox found footage style made Chronicle a breath of fresh air from the rote, commercial stuff that’s often churned out. It’s just a shame the story sticks too close to its premise, taking a tad too long to really get going and ending just when it hits its stride.
Will: For me, Chronicle feels somewhat like it would have been better suited to a 40 minute television episode as it was presented. The torturous first half, with its ever so slow build up, is enjoyable only when showing the boys exercising their magic, and it was pleasing to actually see their magic developing rather than them simply becoming powerful with immediate effect.
Andrew is awkwardness personified, through no fault of Dane DeHaan (resembling a young Leo DiCaprio), but the writer Max Landis who fails to make him relatable. I guess I find the mum dying of cancer and drunken abusive dad somewhat clichéd. Really guys? It’s been done!
The second half however, is where the action and story kick off. Andrew commences his descent into madness and he and Matt drift apart, all leading to the end scene beginning at the hospital which is comfortably the best of the film and was not as tediously and unnecessarily long as the recent Transformers film, maintaining intensity throughout.
And now, my gripe! If I suddenly gained magic powers, sure I would have some fun, but I would become totally and completely obsessed with finding out HOW and WHY?! The total failure to cover this, a token statement at the end aside, is disappointing. Any movie with the base premise of randomly becoming magic simply requires this element.
Given the movie ends right as it finally starts to kick off, perhaps this issue would have been something worth exploring! Or maybe a wizard did it!
Thin bun, slightly burnt (tolerable plot with serious rough bits), a good sized beef patty, cooked medium-rare (good action in second half), a slice of American cheese (typical American romance, I guess Homer must have eaten the other 63 slices!), lettuce and pickles (for those moments that made you cringe!). Unfortunately the burger was delayed by half an hour and came a little cold!
Recommended with a large serve of chips, as otherwise you will not be fully satisfied.
Sam: I agree but my rating would be closer to 3.5/5 – my burger wasn’t as burnt as yours! I disagree that any movie with the premise of ‘randomly becoming magic’ should require an explanation as to the how and why. The mysterious crystal thing that they get their powers from is a plot device and springboard for the rest of the film – it’s not intended to be the focus of the story. The problem is that the plot they went with wasn’t very complex so it brought to light the fact that Chronicle didn’t have an original mythology to call its own. I think they could have done more with it as you say but I don’t think that’s the main reason for the story’s failings – it’s just all premise and little else!
Will: All premise and little else, an appropriate description for the movie as a whole! I accept it’s not the only path a movie starting in such a way can take but as I said I’d be obsessed with finding out how this happened, and I refuse to buy that a character as clearly introspective and introverted as Andrew wouldn’t also want to find out more. In my book, while what happened need not have actually been explained the characters still need to seek an explanation.
Sam: Touché. To be fair though, they do try to discover more but have to leave because ‘the ground is unstable’ or some such other silly excuse.
Will: I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree.
Sam: I don’t agree to that!
Overall tag team review scores are based on the average of the individual scores, rounded down. This way a movie can only get a 5 star rating if everyone rates it 5/5.