“Chronicle” is a divisive movie. Trust me on this – when we watched this tale of teens with mysteriously acquired superpowers, my wife and I couldn’t have had more different opinions on it. Spoilers, of a kind, may follow…
The marvellous Mrs Rolling Eyeballs was, to say the least, less than engaged by the film. She hated the characters and felt that the story was non-existent. Whilst I will concur that the story is fairly threadbare and that the protagonists were very much ‘types’ and not exactly boldly drawn, I really quite enjoyed Josh Trank’s debut film and marvelled at what he pulled together on a budget which might cover a single action sequence in “The Avengers”.
Starring nobody that you’ve heard of – though lead Dane DeHaan is the spitting image of a young Leonardo DiCaprio – “Chronicle” goes the “Spider-Man“/classic Marvel Comics route in gifting a disparate trio of high school lads with uncanny, telepathy-derived powers and seeing how they use/abuse them for personal gain.
So far, so predictable. Where “Chronicle” scores best for me is in giving us teenage characters who behave probably as you might do if you found yourself wearing their Converses – rather than flitting around town stopping crime and being upstanding members of the community, these dudes prank unsuspecting mall shoppers and zip into mid-air for a swift kick-about (interrupted rudely by a passenger jet).
For the first part of the film – before things go positively David Fincher – this nerd troika reacts to their good fortune by using it for selfish gain and giggles and things only go south when DeHaan’s put-upon, abused nerd Andrew finds his reliance on his extraordinary gifts taking him to very dark, bully-destroying, patricidal, places indeed.
If you can get past the ‘found footage’ conceit – Andrew videotapes everything, in an effort to document his alcoholic father’s regular beatings – this is a very different take on the coming of age superhero origin story which we see so often. The action sequences are remarkably effective – the climax being a particularly well-executed example of mass civic mayhem rendered on a budget more akin to Kevin Smith’s films than Un Film De Michael Bay – and give a tantalising hint of what an “X-Men” spin-off might look like if the makers of Channel Four‘s parent-worrying teen drama “Skins” got their mitts on the Fox franchise.
It’s an impressive debut and makes you wonder what director Josh Trank might do with the multiple projects – “Spider-Man” spin-off, “Venom”, the “Fantastic Four” reboot and video game adaptation, “Shadow of the Colossus” – that he’s attached to develop.