'Chronicle' surprises 

With superteens who don't suck.

[image-1]

In "Chronicle," the aquarium-eyed Dane DeHaan plays a high-school outcast named Andrew, whose life sucks even by high-school standards. His mother's dying of something slow and terrible, his father is a violent drunk, girls rightly think he's weird and bullies like to yank on his head. His life reads as a prelude to a school shooting until his cheerfully philosophical cousin Matt (Alex Russell) and a chipper BMOC named Steve (Michael B. Jordan) coax him away from a party to a strange sinkhole in the Washington woods. The three boys follow some odd noises, spelunk into the crevasse and find a glowing crystalline mass that gives them nosebleeds. Next thing you know, the boys are able to control small objects with their minds — baseballs, Legos — and work their way up to veritable black-belts in telekinesis, and Andrew's life goes from bad to fun to something else entirely.

With every chance to make a teen-hero flick, Josh Trank, directing his first feature and sharing the writing credits with Max Landis, also in his first feature, comes up with a moody, memorable film that takes chances without cutting corners — rarities both inside these genres. It's not often that an action movie can coexist with a teen drama without one (or both) getting stiffed. "Chronicle" announces very early that its stakes are going to be high, and to its credit, it follows through, applying the kind of effects usually reserved for superhero movies to a story without any defined heroes. The result respects teen-agers by showing us just how twisted their lives really can be.

Even in its cinematography "Chronicle" skirts pitfalls. From the opening scene, shot from a camera that stares into a mirror on Andrew's bedroom door, "Chronicle" is ostensibly shot from either a handheld camera, or a news camera, or a security camera, or a cell phone camera — the sort of first-person perspective best used, like chili flakes, in pinches. Andrew's strange enough for the trope to seem at least somewhat natural early. Once he takes to holding the camera telekinetically, "Chronicle" goes places none of its Steadicam ancestors could reach.

As with everything in high school, the boys' astonishing powers could come neither at a better nor a worse time. The boys find kinship in the shared secret, and claim a bit of social advantage (read: impressing girls) when the chance arises. But at the same time Andrew is acquainting himself with his new gifts — his grasp of the new ability is both the strongest and the most graceful — he's fighting through the anger that bullies and his father and his mother's illness have packed into him over the years. We've seen these themes explored before in the likes of the "X-Men" franchise — the disaffection and tempestuousness that come with being young and stricken with an unexplained power. "Chronicle" takes them further by ditching comic-book cliches and instead treating the story with a degree of realism and care uncommon among movies made for teen-agers. Nearly every scene is tinged (if not altogether soaked) with a stormy sensibility. For all the exploration the boys do, we never hear them utter the words "hero." They have no interest in living out that story, and bless 'em, neither do Trank and Landis. Darkness rarely feels this refreshing.

Film Details

  • Chronicle

    • Rated PG-13 - Drama, SciFi/Fantasy, Suspense/Thriller
Chronicle
Rated PG-13 · 83 min. · 2012
Official Site: www.facebook.com/Chronicle
Director: Josh Trank
Writer: Max Landis
Producer: John Davis and Adam Schroeder
Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Dane DeHaan, Michael Kelly, Ashley Hinshaw, Anna Wood, Alex Russell, Joe Vaz, Luke Tyler and Matthew Dylan Roberts

Trailer


Now Playing

Sorry there are no upcoming showtimes for Chronicle

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Sam Eifling

Most Shared

  • The TC Edwards memorial roundup

    TC Edwards had hundreds of friends. If you were among them or even somewhere on the periphery, your Facebook feed has been dominated this week by tributes and photos and news of benefit concerts. Here's an attempt at a roundup of everything that's out there, with a focus on all the things you can do or attend.
  • Psych of the South: The Mercenaries' 'Things Found Here'

    Recently, a trove of band business cards from the golden era of Arkansas garage bands was discovered and put on eBay. I was able to purchase some of them, including one by a little known 1960s garage band from Little Rock named The Mercenaries. Their record, on the cult favorite MY records label based in Little Rock, was released in early 1967. Their songs, including the atmospheric and heavy “Things Found Here” along with the psychedelic tinged “Take It All” are obscure even by garage rock standards. They were not featured on the 1999 Butler Center MY records compilation and their story has not been told before
  • Arkansas Baptist College receives $30 million federal loan; expected to ease cash crunch

    Arkansas Baptist College officials say they have received news of approval of a federal loan that is expected to stabilize the college's finances after a period of struggle.
  • Alderman says he'll try again for Fayetteville civil rights ordinance

    Fayetteville Alderman Matt Petty says he'll try again to pass a city civil rights ordinance that extends some protections to LGBT people.
  • The Koch Party: Inside the oligarchs' political machine

    Politico delves deeply into the political machine begin built with the Koch brothers' fortune — a data-driven colossus for voter identification and turnout that has eclipsed Republican Party machinery to the extent that people like Tom Cotton used it over party tools.

Latest in Movie Reviews

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31  
 

© 2014 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation