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May 15, 2012

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On DVD/Blu-ray – Chronicle (2012)

by NIR SHALEV

The found footage style of filmmaking has gotten out of hand as of late, becoming more annoying than interesting. However, Chronicle managed to turn that right around by being a character-driven found footage film centered on three utterly normal teenagers who happen to develop telekinetic abilities.

After finding a deep, dark hole in the ground, Andrew (Dane DeHaan), Matt (Alex Russell), and Steve (Michael B. Jordan) venture down it and pass out. Exactly what was down there is unknown but it looked to be made of crystals that alternate colors. Fast forward a few weeks and the boys, who had barely spoken to one another in the past are now inseparable. Together they learn to control their newfound powers of telekinesis and have a ton of fun with them, whether it’s making teddy bears float before little girls in a toy store or moving a woman’s car from one parking spot to another.

They’re young and love to have fun and indeed it is fun to watch their camaraderie grow, but Chronicle has far more drama than comedy. Andrew turns out to be the dark apple in the group. His mother is dying from a severe type of cancer (I believe that it’s cancer, it’s never really explained) and his father, who’s on welfare, physically abuses him every chance he gets. As Matt and Steve’s powers grow little by little, Andrew’s grow exponentially and it turns him into the potential villain of the film.

The themes touched upon in the screenplay, co-written by Max Landis (son of John Landis), focus on abuse, both at home and in school; gaining popularity one day and then losing it as suddenly; and watching as absolute power corrupts, absolutely. It’s also a fascinating portrait of today’s youth. Gaining telekinetic abilities as a high school student in this day and age would definitely liven things up.

It’s never boring and it’s never too subtle, but it’s also never ham-fisted. It utilizes various ways of moving the camera without shaking it violently (and within the film those ways are character-driven). The climactic finale/action showcase is enthralling and nerve-wracking. The film also features the best flying sequences that I have ever seen. On a mere $12 million dollar budget, the filmmakers make an astonishing debut. Chronicle showcases three terrific up-and-coming young actors to watch out for and is too original of a film to pass up.

The Blu-ray contains the following special features: Unrated Director’s Cut; Deleted Scene; Pre-Viz; Camera Test; Theatrical Trailer; Chronicle Soundtrack Info; DVD + Digital Copy.

Original Commentary Track review of Chronicle by Nir Shalev.

New releases this week and last: Albert Nobbs, The Devil Inside, The Grey, One for the Money, Rampart, Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, Underworld: Awakening, The Vow


3 Comments Post a comment
  1. May 15 2012

    This sounds like an intriguing movie that I will have to check out. I remember seeing the previews on TV and was interested, but you never know from the previews if the movie as a whole will be worth it. Still, I like the concept and the hand-held camera thing in today’s movies is getting out-of-control and should be outlawed I am glad to hear that here they at least found creative ways to utilize it.

  2. Michelle
    May 15 2012

    I loved this movie. It was such a pleasant surprise, and I’m glad I took a chance on it at the cinema. :) I’m astounded at what they achieved on such a small budget. The young men were very natural and believable–the progression of the use of their gifts felt plausible. No costume-sketching and cape-sewing in this film!

  3. May 15 2012

    @Michelle, hear hear!

    I find that I enjoyed the film immensely, when I first watched it in theatres especially because I hadn’t watched the trailers. I try not to watch trailers to most films (Batman excluded) and after having watched Chronicle I watched the trailers at home. They make the protagonists seem like unlikable jerks and kind of ruin the bigger stuff that happens later in the film. But I won’t spoil anything.

    It’s also astonishing that while it appears to take place in Seattle, it was shot entirely in Cape Town, South Africa. How? That I do not know.

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