Business rating: 2 / 5 stars (Two stars)
Star cast: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan.
What’s Good: The interesting premise of the story; the racy first half.
What’s Bad: The disappointing climactic portion; the disconnect between the protagonist and the viewers.
Verdict:Chronicle is interesting and engaging in parts only. It will, at best, do average business at the Indian box-office.
Loo break: A couple in the latter half.
Watch or Not?: Watch if for its interesting take on the superhero genre.
Adam Schroeder Productions, Davis Entertainment and Fox Star Studios’ Chronicle is about three high school boys who acquire superhero-like powers.
High school kids Andrew (Dane DeHaan), his cousin, Matt (Alex Russell), and Matt’s friend, Steve Montgomery (Michael B. Jordan), stumble upon an unknown glowing underground object in a drunken state after a party. The three fall unconscious when they come in contact with it but seem to have acquired the power of telekinesis (moving objects with mind control) after they wake up. When they go back to the spot where they had found the mysterious object, they find it sunk into the ground.
Andrew, a social outcaste and an awkward adolescent because he comes from a broken home, makes the most of his newfound powers. He shoots everything that he, Matt and Steve do with their ever-increasing powers, using a camera. He conducts a magic show at the school talent show and becomes popular. They discover that they can fly and that they seem to have bodies made of steel!
While Matt and Steve want them to have rules for using their powers after a freak car accident caused by Andrew, the latter is rather taken in by what he can do with his powers and will, therefore, not hear of any rules. He roughs up his drunkard father when the latter tries to beat him up at home. Andrew then tries to steal money from local hoodlums to buy essential medicines for his very sick mother, something that his out-of-job father is unable to provide.
However, things soon get out of hand and Steve is killed in a freak accident. Matt is unable to stop Andrew as the latter is more powerful than him. What happens next? Is Andrew able to handle the uninhibited power he enjoys? Is he able to save his mother from her impending death? What about his father, whom he hates? How exactly was Steve killed?
Chronicle Review: Script Analysis
Max Landis and Josh Trank’s story has an interesting premise although the screenplay (by Max Landis) takes a familiar trajectory like the X-Men films, where young people with unbridled power are shown to be coming to terms with it. The first half of the film is quite engaging and fun to watch as the three surprised youngsters experiment and play around. The characterisations, although uni-dimensional, are built up nicely. The idea of someone acquiring such powers in a freak incident might be preposterous, but the writer is able to make the narrative seem real enough for the viewer to be clued in.
But where he loses the plot is in the climactic portion, where Andrew’s power gets to his head, causing widespread destruction and tyranny. Although this part is a natural progression of the earlier part of the story, the manner in which it plays out makes it rather indigestible. As a result, the many action scenes, which are well-executed, end up boring the audience instead. Perhaps, this is because the writers are unable to get the audience to sympathise with their protagonist, Andrew, who turns out to be a grey character, at best.
Another drawback is that the writers seem to have cut corners because they depict the story with the help of hand-held camera/s, which are carried by Andrew and other characters of the film. Although use of this device, inspired by Blair Witch Project, does lend itself to a few interesting situations, the audience gets rather irritated when it finds the film’s characters making lame excuses to carry a camera around.
Chronicle Review: Star Performances
Dane DeHaan does very well as the reticent and mercurial Andrew. He looks the part but falls short in the climax. Alex Russell, as the cousin, is affable and effective. Michael B. Jordan (as Steve) is fine. Michael Kelly (as Andrew’s father) leaves a mark. Ashley Hinshaw (as Casey) does a fair job. Bo Petersen (as Andrew’s mother), Anna Wood (as Monica) and others offer average support.
Chronicle Review: Direction & Technical Aspects
Josh Trank’s direction is very good. He tells the story in an engaging manner. Matthew Jensen’s cinematography is nice. He uses the hand-held camera to the maximum effect. Production design, by Stephen Altman, is alright. Editing, by Elliot Greenberg, is sharp.
Chronicle Review: The Last Word
On the whole, Chronicle offers entertainment in parts but that won’t be enough for it to do much business at the Indian box-office.