Super Adventure

Three Friends Chronicle One Super Adventure

With the rise in popularity of found footage and superhero movies, it was only a matter of time before they both united. Well, it seems the wait is over with lost camera footage revealing the trials and tribulations of super-powered humans in Chronicle.

Although found footage films can vary from one to the other, Chronicle is as strong as Cloverfield and the Paranormal Activity series. These movies are about bringing reality to fiction and it’s cool to see this done with superpowers.  Being confined to what’s on screen, we can also feel the same thrills and chills characters show with each new skill. This makes things seem more exciting and intriguing. As one character says of his camera, “It serves a purpose.”

Chronicle could have been done in a regular fashion, but instead, the camera adds mystic to certain situations and keeps one eager to see what will happen next as superpowers enter reality.

Chronicle is about a loner named Andrew Detmer (Dan DeHann), who lives with his dying mother and abusive father. As she gets worse, he decides to record life on camera from home to school. Andrew shows viewers his lack of friends except for his cousin, Matt Garetty (Alex Russell). He also has to deal with bullies, and generally stands alone, eating lunch by himself on the bleachers.

After Matt convinces Andrew to go to a party and, Andrew does so with his camera, he leaves after bothering some guy. Outside, Andrew meets Steve Montgomery (Michael B. Jordan) who says he has to see what he and Matt found in the woods. Soon, Andrew sees an odd hole in the ground with a strange noise emitting from it. Matt and Steve go to investigate it and Andrew follows reluctantly. There they find a strange, glowing object with something inside, but they start to feel ill as the noise grows, and then the camera turns off.

Three weeks later, Andrew, Matt, and Steve have been developing their superpowers from that mysterious construct, specifically telekinesis, allowing them to do anything from stopping baseballs in midair to flying. However, as they get more powerful, these friends realize they need to keep their powers in check or it could take hold of them.

Like any found footage film, it helps to have a believable cast of unfamiliar faces. This is achieved with Chronicle’s main cast as DeHann, Russell, and Jordan look and act like high school students while giving their characters distinct personalities.

DeHann shows Andrew’s depression as well as his joy at gaining his powers, Russell acts as the voice of reason, and Jordan is the comic relief of the group and gets some of the funniest lines.

More so, they present their characters having no responsibilities by laughing when they pull pranks on unsuspecting people like when Jordan moves a woman’s car from one spot to another and they laugh like actual teens as the lady gets frantic.

These actors display a care-free attitude to not make Andrew, Matt, and Steve feel like superheroes, but kids with superpowers. Later on, DeHann and Russell capture Andrew and Matt’s struggling relationship with angry expressions and tough stances as their powers pull them into dark territory.

Josh Trank does a wonderful job directing Chronicle, capturing all the fun of having powers as well as the dangers of them. Yet, he really shines with how he plays with the camera. While many found footage are in first-person, it’s not always the case here. The director incorporates the powers into the camera work and altering the film’s perspective.

Rather than feeling weird, this makes the movie more interesting by expanding its scope, like when a tracking shot is used to show Andrew pushing his camera away from him as he lies in his bed, or as Andrew and Steve talk to each other as the camera spins around them. Not only is the camera work smooth, but the editing by Elliot Greenberg is nice as scenes move and jump seamlessly.

Trank also takes advantage of other camera forms like security and news footage to round out scenes. In fact, the climactic battle jumps from one camera type to another so that every crash, punch, and feat of strength is seen and felt. Trank does fantastic here by giving viewers a heart-stopping fight that feels like something out of the X-Men movies.

The script by Trank and Max Landis is like a mash-up of Cloverfield, Spider-Man, and Kick-Ass. The first couple minutes can be a little dull, but it’s meant to build up Andrew’s powerless life. It’s really when Andrew, Matt, and Steve find the thing that gives them powers (which is hard to make out and wonderfully kept in the dark) that the movie really excels.

One of the best scenes is at night after an accident when Matt makes three rules about using powers. It sets a standard for all of them and makes it a waiting game to see who will ignore them first.

Seeing these characters react and deal with their super situation is most of the fun in Chronicle. Viewers see this intensity as Andrew becomes obsessed with his powers, talking about evolution and crushing a car or pulling the legs off a spider with his mind. Trank and Landis introduce fine struggles and darkness toward the end of act two as events slowly build upon each other toward the action-packed climax.

Now the film isn’t completely serious as Trank and Landis present humorous scenes to remind the audiences these aren’t superheroes. This means playing around with their gifts for fun rather than fighting crime like moving a woman’s shopping cart as well as mentally controlling a teddy bear and scaring a little girl.

Still, the screenwriters are conscientious to show consequences like when they play football in the sky only to later encounter jet airliners.

Chronicle has the ability to appeal to everyone but it helps to enjoy superhero movies, mainly realistic superheroes seen in Kick-Ass, Super, and Defendor. These movies are always fascinating because it shows what life could be like if people fought crime or had powers.

Now while the teens in Chronicle do have superpowers, they don’t deter from the realism and are convincing by controlling things with their mind. The special effects team does great bringing these powers to life, as when Andrew and Steve hover in the clouds during a thunder and lightning storm or when these friends build Legos using their minds.

Overall, Chronicle is a fine appetizer to this summer’s comic book movies like The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises. It does well to make people really take a look at what having superpowers (or supreme telekinesis) are like rather than watching a costume hero take to danger and not give a second thought.

However, some things are left unsaid by the end of the movie that would be compelling to unravel in later films. Hey, with a name like Chronicle who’s to say that this tale won’t continue?