A bunch of high-school teenagers land in a clandestine cave and make a shocking discovery. A super power changes their lives completely. The narration in a ‘found footage’ manner, through the eyes of a camera, makes it a different watch.
The plot: Andrew (Dane DeHaan) is a typically troubled, lonely and much-bullied high-school teenager. Between a physically-abusive drunken father and a cancer-suffering mother, the only thing that absorbs Andrew is recording everything he experiences on his camera. In sharp contrast, the only person he is close to is Mr Popular alias Matt (Michael Jordan), his cousin. Andrew also befriends a high-school student-politician Steve (Alex Russell) and just as they all start bonding, they stumble upon a manhole from where they obtain extraordinary powers which brings them even closer. As they enjoy this newfound change in their lives, they start using it more and more. But with power comes responsibility and that’s a faraway term for the young, wounded Andrew who decides that it’s payback time. But since all of them obtained their powers together, they also have to pay the price for one another’s faults.
The good: The duration is interestingly 83 minutes, which gives Chronicle the advantage of remaining interesting through most of it. Debutant director Josh Trank has taken on the challenge of giving the feel of a big-budgeted action film on a small budget. The story penned in an unconventional manner by Max Landis is fresh and fun as it deals with the interesting concept of what teenagers would do if they did land up with unusual powers one fine day. The amount of fun they would have using it, is fun watching too. Even the dialogues by Max keep the mood upbeat and don’t really get morose in spite of Andrew being in a miserable condition for a large part. The acting is acceptably mature and playful by all three especially Dane DeHaan, who is good enough to be pitied at the start and convincing towards the end when his violent streak shows up. The film maintains a good pace and has a lot of content specially for the young. The special effects in the end are the cherry on top.
The bad: The whole idea of shooting the film in found footage style does not succeed to create the required mystique and raw feeling as most of the time it is not even necessary to shoot like that and gets boring to watch. A lot of times the content is sidelined, only the shot is concentrated on. It looks like they have used this style for the heck of it. The superpower is vague and concentrates more on Andrew than the other two.
Overall: Well executed, especially considering its shoestring budget. Definitely a good watch.
– Pooja Thakkar