Chronicle - SideReel Review

Chronicle - SideReel Review

Villains rarely get the lead-character treatment in Hollywood, and that alone makes Chronicle worthy viewing if one is craving a unique found-footage film. Imagine an X-Men movie in which the narrative follows the loner kid who gets superpowers, becomes popular, then spirals into madness once his crummy domestic life becomes too much. It’s a fascinating -- and bold -- premise that screenwriter Max Landis and director Josh Trank have concocted for what is otherwise a straightforward Hollywood release.

Though Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan) at first seems insufferably emo (his initial bummed-out line readings are pretty terrible), this is one character arc that’s a welcome change of pace compared to the cinematic superhero tropes audiences have come to expect. The picture opens as Detmer starts videotaping his life, which is filled with verbal and physical abuse from both his father and bullies at school, along with a tragic home life that revolves around his terminally ill mother. Things turn around one night when he and two fellow students are given telekinetic powers after discovering a mysterious crater outside a rave. Soon, the three develop their gifts and go through the highs and lows of this newfound responsibility, with Andrew becoming a darker force each day as his inhuman powers grow stronger.

On the technical end, the movie finds a number of satisfying ways to capture the action on camera -- which is quite the revelation when dealing with the found-footage artistic style. And while the picture may push the boundaries of this shooting aesthetic a bit too far in the end, forgiving viewers will be happy with the fantastic eye candy that’s being delivered. Ironically enough, though the picture excels at breathing new life into the world of handheld fiction on the big screen, its stringent use of personal cameras could be considered a hindrance. While there are legitimate reasons why the main character would turn psychotic, there’s never a clear reason as to why he is always filming himself -- even though the dialogue is filled with endless references to cameras, which in and of itself becomes bothersome. Still, Chronicle is quite an achievement, and it’s a film that genre enthusiasts should not miss.

-Jeremy Wheeler


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