Chronicle

Chronicle from director Josh Trank is a “found footage” movie that explores what would happen if a ‘normal’ person was given superpowers.

Andrew (Dane DeHaan) is a shy and troubled youth with a sick mother and an abusive father.  He decides to document his life by recording video – that’s how the movie starts.  Through the footage that Andrew records, we encounter the other two main characters in the story – Andrew’s cousin Matt (Alex Russell), who is Andrew’s only friend, and Steve (Michael Jordan) who is running for President at their high school.

The three encounter a mysterious force that grants them telekinetic powers.  The remainder of the movie shows us what they do with these powers – told mostly from the point of view of Andrew’s camera.  If a ‘normal’ person is given telekinetic powers, would that person use it to do goody-goody stuff?  No, they wouldn’t – and that’s what Trank’s take on the subject matter is, which results in an engaging and very well done movie, that does turn quite dark as it progresses.

Coming in at less than 90 minutes, Chronicle actually covers a lot of ground (origin and a whole story arc for the characters), and builds up really well.  It’s well written (screenplay by Max Landis, who is John Landis’s son) and the acting is very good.

The standout performance for me was from Dane DeHaan as Andrew, who was really believable in the role.  Towards the end, the movie reminded me of Akira, though the two are not related, Andrew’s character does have shades of Tetsuo from that movie.

The visual effects are very well done – they blend in very well with the supposedly ‘filmed’ footage.

The film takes a lot of artistic license with the “found footage” aspect (I don’t suppose the filmmakers have officially claimed it as a “found footage” movie, have they?).

Early on I suppose it could pass off as footage that was ‘found’ as is, but later on it freely breaks from that mould, since we’re shown footage from more than one camera.  Therefore, what is shown in the movie cannot possibly be found footage, as anyone who’s edited video would tell you.  If what we’re shown is true, much of the film is supposed to be shot with a Canon HD camera but I doubt that it would produce shallow depth-of-field effects like what we see.

In reality the movie was shot with Arri Alexa cameras (so yes, it was shot digitally) with Cooke S4 and Angenieux Optimo Lenses (technical info courtesy IMDb).

Of course, complaining about the video aspect not being plausible, in a movie about people who get telekinetic powers is needless nitpicking, I realise (see Bellisario’s Maxim)!  So it’s best not to think too much about that and simply enjoy it as a unique storytelling device employed by director Trank.

Overall a very nicely done movie.  Definitely worth watching and Josh Trank is a name to keep in mind!

Rating: 8/10

Note: I saw this at Prasad’s, entered the hall in time to see the trailer of This Means War (first time I’m hearing of this movie – it’s directed by McG).  My friend informed me that I missed the trailer they showed before that – the one for Prometheus!  Granted, it’s the same one I’ve already seen dozens of times, but it would have been awesome to see it on a big screen.

Another Note: Praise to whoever decided to release this movie in India, the same praise as I would attribute to the people who released Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive in India.  Drive was also shot (Newton Thomas Sigel) digitally, with Arri Alexa cameras.  Apart from the lenses mentioned above, the IMDb page lists Zeiss Master Prime Lenses as being used.