Susan Granger's review of 'Chronicle'
Published 1:11 pm, Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Blending adolescent fantasy and a timely commentary about bulling with the `found-footage' concept popularized in "The Blair Witch Project" and "Cloverfield," this is a mock documentary about three teenagers who discover they have acquired mysterious superpowers.
Nerdy, volatile Andrew (Dane DeHaan), whose digital camera records most of the story, is a tormented, troubled loner. His intellectual cousin, Matt (Alex Russell), has a penchant for quoting philosophers like Plato, Jung and Schopenhauer, awkwardly ruminating on how humans are "beings of pure will." And Steve (Michael B. Jordan) is the cool, popular kid in their high school. After a party, they discover a huge hole in the ground. Hidden inside in an underground tunnel is a mysterious, glowing artifact. Suddenly, they're able to move things with their minds, including their own bodies. After sharing a joyous, self-propelled flight, frolicking through the clouds, how each of the trio chooses to use his telekinetic powers forms the morality-based plot and its consequences.
Delighted Matt and Steve amuse themselves with levitating pranks and stunts, goofing around with each other and various inanimate objects, like Legos and a baseball. Matt wants them to follow sensible rules, like "No using it on living things" and "You can't use it when you're angry." Gregarious Steve urges repressed Andrew to join him in a magic act, while Matt is eager to impress a video blogger (Ashley Hinshaw).
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But Andrew's reaction is more sinister. Beaten by his alcoholic, disabled ex-fire fighter father (Michael Kelly) and left to care for his dying mother (Bo Petersen), he becomes intoxicated with his own omnipotence, declaring himself an "apex predator," ultimately causing urban destruction as part of a murderous rampage.
Screenwriter Max Landis (son of John Landis) and director Josh Trank have delineated believable, if overly formulaic, coming-of-age characters, realistically shot in South Africa by cinematographer Matthew Jensen - and the aerial effects are first-rate.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Chronicle" is a slick, sci-fi 6, appealing to its adolescent audience with the question: "What would you do if you had super powers?"