Chronicle = proof never to trust your boyfriend with the movie choice without having seen the trailer first.
I don’t want to pigeonhole myself into any binding gender stereotypes here, but I hate end of world movies. I weeped when I saw John Cusack on the cast list of 2012. Random property damage for the sake of extremely loud and violent bells and whistles just ain’t my bag, baby. So when my boyfriend suggested Chronicle for our Thursday night movie I agreed without hesitation, not because I was attempting to widen existing perceptions and open myself up to new possibilities, but simply because I had no clue what I was walking into.
Given all that, you can consider it pretty high praise when I say, ‘y’know what, I didn’t mind it’. Despite my initial reservations (only hardened by the fact that every single preview beforehand featured earth swallowing fires, an assortment of tsunamis and cyclones, and more cars on their roofs than not), I was swallowed up in Chronicle. The handy-cam thing didn’t bother me (they’re going for a Blair Witch-type thing, where the majority of the film is shot with a handheld camera, or else through security footage / on-the-scene television cameras) and the clever script kept me engaged. It wasn’t until the last 20 minutes when all my worst fears were realised.
Chronicle documents the rise and fall of three potential, everyday superheroes. Andrew (Dane DeHaan) has taken to documenting his entire life via camera; having settled into his outsider status, he cements his position of wallflower by watching everyone else living their lives…and filming it. When tagging along with cousin Matt and his friend Steve to a party (Alex Russell and Michael B. Jordan), the three stumble into a weird hole in the ground where there’s glowing rocks and bam! all three have telekinetic powers.
Despite an annoying lack of information as to what the hell happened and where their powers have come from, there follows a lovely section of the film where the three boys learn to use and control their newfound assets. There are no musical montages, no quick cuts to One Week Later, instead just an exploration into what exactly would you do if it were suddenly possible to move things with your mind. The whole thing was very fresh, very real. But seriously, it was.
As each character grows into his powers we learn more about their true nature, namely Andrew, whose eyes we are watching through. His mum is dying from cancer and they are unable to afford her medication, while his dad drinks himself to oblivion, giving Andrew more than a few quick hits to the head along the way. Suddenly, a line has been drawn in the sand, and Andrew is more than willing to throw himself across it. Thus begins his downward spiral and the disintegration of a thoughtfully delivered film into a beefy display of just how many special effects you can bombard an audience with.
Even though I was in a terrible mood, thinking prematurely that I had just surrendered two hours of my life, I found myself – dare I say – enjoying Chronicle. The performances of the three are genuine, and there is no cringing through the casual banter and getting-to-kn0w-each-each-other hangouts. The film’s pace is encouraging too, with each new development coaxing an audible gasp out of a good few audience members around me. It is just disappointing that, with it seems nowhere else to go, director Josh Trank succumbed to the bright shiny buttons of the SFX board.
If you’ve actually seen the trailer, you know what you’re in for. Chronicle is most definitely still worth a viewing, just don’t get your hopes up for any kind of satisfying ending.