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Chronicle offers audience incredible sci-fi experience

By Jordan Wright
On February 5, 2012

There's nothing I love more than a good surprise. Case in point, "Chronicle," a film with marketing so terribly obnoxious that I dreaded every second leading up to the inevitable review that I would have to do of it. Yet now I find myself dumbfounded to say that "Chronicle" may be one of the best movies I'll see this year.

Small name actor Dane DeHaan plays high school outcast Andrew Detmer, who becomes obsessed with documenting his life with the use of a camera that has recently come into his possession. The camera reveals that Andrew's life is pretty bad. His father beats him, he's bullied at school, the mother that he loves dearly is terminally ill and worsens in condition each day and the closest thing that he has to a friend is his cousin, Matt, played by Alex Russell, whose increasingly popular status pushes him away from his shy and socially awkward cousin.

While exploring a field near a rave, Andrew, Matt, and one of Matt's friends, Steven (Michael B. Jordan) find a hole in the ground that leads to a large glowing object that causes their noses to bleed and pass out. After a couple of weeks, the three begin to develop telekinetic powers and begin to bond over their common trait and contemplate what they intend to do with their new abilities. Being popular, Steven and Matt have lives of their own and are well respected within their own communities. Andrew, however, has been picked on most of his life at school and at home, giving him more reason than anyone to use his abilities for less than noble purposes.

The surprise sinks in the second the film starts, when Andrew begins to film himself and discuss his intent of catching his father's physical abuse on camera. "Chronicle" is a found footage film but not in the same fashion that most films of its ilk are made. Every shot of the film is recorded using a camera within the actual story, from hand held cameras, to cell phone cameras, to traffic cameras and many more, tying into the title of the film, hinting that it is organized from footage of every camera used to capture everything seen on screen.

In addition to the collection of the camera footage, the use of telekinesis to manipulate the cameras helps the film to overcome the major flaw of most found footage films on a concept level, being that there is actually a reason for the cameras to follow the action with real accuracy.

The film is essentially a superhero origin story, brought down to reality in ways that could never be done with a mainstream property. The fantastic chemistry between the cast sells the sense of wonder that comes with the exploration of what their powers can do. There are entire scenes of the three just experimenting with their abilities that degenerate into fits of giggling as their attempts to push their powers may or may not backfire in each other's faces. They're teenagers first and foremost and their camaraderie with one another endears them to the audience, making you hope that they make the right choices with their powers at the end of the day.

The special effects help to sell the impact of the film even further. No commercial or trailer can do this film's effects justice. Every effect is perfectly blended with the environment and the camera quality of the found footage style gives an incredibly realistic tone to every display of effects without stealing from the character drama.

The gist of it is that "Chronicle" is one of the best films that I have seen in a while. It is an intriguing character study, a fascinating sci-fi film and one of the most unique superhero movies that I have ever seen in my life. A few of the angles and camera placements may have been a bit of a stretch but it's been a while since I've seen a film that has simply reenergized my willingness to undergo a theater experience. I fully intend to watch this film again in theaters and am counting the days until its DVD release.

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