When I first saw the theatrical trailer for the movie Chronicle, it really didn’t leave a lasting impression for me. So much so, that I had no idea that this movie was shot in a point of view style. Needless to say, I wasn’t expecting to go see Chronicle in any point in the near future, however after a night of plans that fell through, a friend and I found ourselves at the theater viewing Chronicle.
I was thoroughly surprised with the way Chronicle turned out. It focuses around a trio of teens who stumble upon this mysterious underground cave where they are granted super powers. The movie’s main character, Andrew (Dane Dehaan), is somewhat of a social outcast. He doesn’t fit in with others at school, and resorts to filming everything he sees. This acts as a barrier between the real world, and his insecurities. His cousin, Matt (Alex Russell), acts as a sort of older brother that watches over him, and makes sure that Andrew adjusts to high school. Matt’s best friend, Steve (MichaelB. Jordan), is the last member of the trio, who is the outgoing, popular one at their high school. The movie follows these three as it shows them adjusting to their newfound super powers, and dealing with the consequences of their decisions.
The thing I liked the most about this movie is the way it escalated from harmless fun with their powers, to all out chaos at the end. At first they use their powers to pull pranks on innocent people by scaring them in super markets, or moving their cars in parking lots. All innocent fun with no harm, no foul. Things get worse as Andrew goes too far, and pushes an annoying driver off the road, and into a ditch. Matters only get worse from there, as Andrew begins to get a feel for the damage he can do. The scary thing about this is just how accurate I feel it depicts a random trio of teens who one day see themselves being able to move stuff around with their minds. It focuses more on the abuse of the power, and less on the vigilante heroism.
The movie isn’t without its flaws though. The movie walked a very thin line between being taken seriously, and just being flat out cheesy. There are moments where I found myself laughing at the absurdity of the film, and other moments where I was totally engrossed, and excited about what was happening on screen. The movie has its tense action moments that serve its purpose as an action flick, especially towards the end. It’s a bit of a slow start, but once it gets going, it does a pretty good job of maintaining interest.
The point of view style wears thin at times during the movie. Part of the reason the movie had such a slow start was the fact that you’re forced to watch the ramblings of an outcast, as he fumbles around with his camera around school, and in his home. Maybe a stronger actor could have held the early scenes down, but it took some time to get past it. Over time though, the camera work gets better, partly due to the fact that Andrew learns to control the camera with his mind, and is able to suspend the camera around the group as they practice their abilities. This allows for some really neat scenes as Andrew, and the gang sit atop tall buildings in their city. I think one of the strongest advantages of having it in the point of view style, was some of the spectacular flight scenes in the sky. It was gorgeous scenery as the group zoomed through the sky going in, and out of the white clouds. It was an awesome idea to have this ability for Andrew, and it really brought something new to the table in regards to the point of view style.
My biggest complaint with the point of view was the lack of stability. At times the camera would switch within the group, which I totally understand, however later on in the movie we’re introduced to this new girl, who supposedly walks around with a camera at all times too. Sometimes the audience’s point of view would jump from the group to the new girl without warning. You would have to guess on your own. Finally, towards the end during the climax of the movie, the audience point of view expands from just having Andrew’s camera to suddenly having security footage, other people’s cell phone footage, and so on. It jumped around too much for my taste, and made the ending fight scenes feel messy, and hard to follow what was going on. I understand this is just a fault of the format in which it was filmed, but it begs to question whether or not point of view was the right choice in this movie. It’s hard to say, since one of my favorite scenes, as I mentioned earlier, came from the fact that it was a point of view style.
Chronicle does a well enough job creating characters that you care about. It’s sad to watch the transition of Andrew from his rise and fall with power. The movie even touches on his personal life as he deals with his abusive drunk father, and his sick, and dying mother. It’s also painful to watch Matt, and Steve as they deal with Andrew once the power goes to his head. Dynamically, the trio works well with each other, and really creates a realistic sense of friendship.
Chronicle, although it does a pretty good job on its own, had a lot of potential to be extremely better. It has its ups, and downs as it follows the actions of three teenagers in high school, who find themselves able to control objects around them with their mind. The movie does a fantastic take on what it would be like for three normal teens to be granted extreme powers. The point of view style detracts from the movie in some sections of the film, but also creates awesome shots in other parts. The movie has enough action sequence, and decent enough characters to care about, the plot, and the people in it, to make Chronicle a fun popcorn flick.
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