CHRONICLE (director: Josh Trank; screenwriter: Max Landis/based on a story by Mr. Landis and Mr. Trank; cinematographer: Matthew Jensen; editor: Elliot Greenberg; music: Andrea von Foerster; cast: Dane DeHaan (Andrew Detmer), Alex Russell (Matt Garetty), Michael B. Jordan (Steve Montgomery), Michael Kelly (Richard Detmer), Bo Petersen (Karen Detmer), Ashley Hinshaw (Casey Letter), Anna Wood (Monica); Runtime: 83; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: John Davis/Adam Schroeder; 20the Century Fox; 2012)
“Another one of those cheaply made shaky hand-held camera found-footage flicks.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Another one of those cheaply made shaky hand-held camera found-footage flicks, whose roots stem from The Blair Witch Project. It’s about teens in a big jam. Filmmaker Josh Trank makes his feature film directorial debut. The 26-year-old Max Landis (son of director John)co-writes it with the 26-year-old Trank. The whole thing is supposed to appear natural, of a loser teenager student getting an inexpensive video camera and filming his abusive home life and banal personal life–in other words using the camera to accurately chronicle his miserable life.
The action picks up when three high school students in Seattle, the brainyMatt Garetty (Alex Russell), his nerdy loner cousinAndrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan)and the popular black football star and cool aspiring school student president Steve Montgomery (Michael B. Jordan) discover a deep hole in the woods, while attending a barn rave, and explore the depths of the hole where they locate a glowing crystal and receive from it supernatural powers. The immature lads are not sure of what to do with such great powers and decide to become pranksters, using their newly acquired telekinetic powers to do such things as to move a car in a shopping mall parking lot and laugh at the driver trying to find her car when returning from shopping.The most troubled student is the introverted socially awkward Andrew: his terminally ill mother (Bo Petersen) is dying while attached to an oxygen tank and can’t afford to pay for her medicines to kill the pain; his abusive drunken father (Michael Kelly) is always angry at him and blames him for everything. The dysfunctional family situation leaves the emotionally unbalanced Andrew friendless and unable to fit into the high school scene.
The pic follows the superhero Marvel premise of a young man suddenly possessed of superpowers and forced to change his life to help those not as fortunate; but in this case, Andrew is too emotionally disturbed to use the powers to do good and instead is determined to get revenge on the bullies who picked on him and in using the city as his playground to act out his childish impulses. Things are ok so far, but deflate into hokum when Andrew separates from the other two and becomes vengeful, destructive and filled with hubris, refusing help from the more stable Matt and causing havoc to his community by becoming an apex predatorwho bombs a hospital and flies around the Space Needle with law enforcement in pursuit.
The slickly made gimmicky film, seen through Andrew’s p.o.v. and video camera, is modestly entertaining. It gets across its valid point that acquiring superpowers are not worth much if your values and character are not developed and that anger management is essential for any one, but especially for those on a power trip. But when it aims to shoot for Schopenhauer territory, its philosophy lessons appear on the lite side. Nevertheless it works out fine if one is in the mood to see a dark sci-fi superhero flick whose protagonists are flawed, as this playful one can also be serious in telling us the boys need parental support, something wholesome to believe in, love and guidance more than they need superpower.
REVIEWED ON 2/8/2012 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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