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Chronicle

Reviewed by Galen Strickland

There was a time I would not have written a review of this movie. I used to say I would only write reviews for things I could recommend to others, but I've been relaxing that restriction the past year or so. Not that Chronicle is bad, it's just that for me it's too much of "been there, seen that." The shaky handy-cam "found footage" genre has quite a few titles on its list already, and I'm sure this won't be the last. There have been better ones, and certainly there have been worse. In this particular case though, I have to question this method as being the proper showcase for the story.

First off, we need to talk about the whole conceit of an amateur continually taping all aspects of his life with his new camera. Several tricks are used to get the protagonist on screen; filming himself in a mirror or other reflection, placing the camera in an advantageous position in various locations, later learning how to manipulate the camera [REDACTED]. Then in several instances the perspective is transferred to yet another person on the scene with a camcorder. The notion that we are watching a video that has been found after the fact goes right out the window when you realize multiple cameras have been used in the narrative. In addition, the main character could not have edited this video the way it appears in its final form, plus at least a couple of scenes could not have been filmed by any camera the audience has been made aware of.

The low budget is used effectively, especially in the special effects department. The acting is generally competent, yet predictable due to the cliched script. Both the writer and director are relative newcomers, and they have the potential to do good work in the future, but I feel they lacked the experience to give this movie the emotional impact it should have had. There are too many events telegraphed in advance, too many times when the characters do things that contradict what they previously said they wouldn't do.

I assume anyone reading this review already knows something about the story, and while I don't want to spoil too much, I still think I need to reveal a bit about the plot. Three high-schoolers stumble upon a mysterious object, which transfers to them powers that they eventually learn how to control (or not). In typical fashion for a story of this type, arrogance and over-confidence leads to confrontations between the three, and in some instances harm to others. Almost anyone should be able to predict the outcome after the powers begin to manifest themselves.

As cliched as the story is, it would have been better told as a straight narrative, with multiple camera angles and different character perspectives, plus a crisper and cleaner cinematagraphic style. As I already said, it's not a bad movie, and I know others have given it very high reviews, but it's one I doubt I'll ever feel the desire to see again. No more than three stars out of five, and that's being generous.

 

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Director
Josh Trank

Screenplay
Max Landis

Released
February 3, 2012

Cast
Dane DeHaan
Alex Russell
Michael B. Jordan
Michael Kelly
Ashley Hinshaw

Full Credits at IMDb

On DVD & Blu-Ray Now