Blu-ray Review: Chronicle / Cert: 12A / Director: Josh Trank / Screenplay: Max Landis / Starring: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan / Release Date: Out Now
This past winter, Chronicle made a fair old bit of a splash and propelled writer Max Landis and director Josh Trank into the big time. Rarely a week goes by without these two being linked to a new project. Now the dust has cleared after the initial hype and the film is out on home video we can view it and judge it against its merits. Thankfully Chronicle holds up wonderfully on repeat viewing thanks to strong performances and character work.
If you don’t know the story, allow me to recap for those who missed it first time around. Three teenagers from different backgrounds and social circumstances find something buried under the ground outside a party one night. They find that this mysterious something or other imbues them with telekinetic abilities at first and eventually their powers increase to allow them the ability of flight. This changes their lives completely but lonely, scarred Andrew (Dane DeHaan) takes things too far and his inner turmoil threatens everyone with its capacity for destruction.
Okay so Chronicle is a found footage movie, and truthfully it really does stretch the format to breaking point in its attempt to thrill you and also make sense. Thanks to Max Landis’ clever, intelligent and witty writing we begin the film as a diary of abuse filmed by Andrew as he shoots his sad, lonely life and the abuse he suffers at the hands of his drunken father. This not only sets the scene but also builds the character and gives the film a core of sadness that ensures we take it seriously. Then we change tack as the abilities come to the fore and they continue to document the events as they unfold. They keep the format thanks to the very abilities they are documenting as the cameras are controlled remotely by Andrew’s increasingly powerful telekinetic abilities. Come the explosive and surprising finale, you may think that it goes too far and events are not believable, as the camera becomes increasingly difficult to track in terms of where the footage is coming from. By this point though Andrew’s obsession with filming everything is very clear and as his rage consumes him he could be absentmindedly and psychically controlling things.
Apart from this unique use of the found footage format, the film is also good for what it doesn’t show you. Just enough information is withheld from the viewer to ensure maximum attention. The source of the powers that the trio of teens encounter is left fascinatingly unexplained leaving room for endless interpretation and of course a sequel. A complaint that I had to initial viewing is that the film was almost too short and really did feel slight, the extended edition Blu-ray includes roughly two or three minutes extra consisting mostly of extensions of scenes already in the film, so doesn’t exactly redress the balance but the additional material doesn’t feel tacked on which is a problem many of these ‘extended editions’ face.
Chronicle won’t change the super-hero genre forever but it is a sharp, thrilling shock of super-powered carnage that should be seen by fans and non-fans of fantasy cinema.
Special Features: Deleted Scene, Actors Camera Test, Theatrical Trailer, Pre-Visualisation of two scenes and Soundtrack Info.