I saw Chronicle tonight. There’s not really a way to describe it without spoilers so…
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Andrew, played by the amazing Dane DeHaan, (who is originally from Allentown, PA near my neck the of the woods), buys a camera to record everything in his life beginning with his drunken/abusive father threatening to kick in his locked bedroom door. Normally I’m not a fan of documentary-style films like Blair Witch or Cloverfield, but perhaps it was the “levitating” camera gimmick they introduce later that helped mix up the perspective so you forget it’s being shot first person. Sadly, I can related to a lot of Andrew and his miserable high school life – being an outcast with no friends or social life aside from a little face time with his stoner cousin, Matt, who offers him rides to school.
After daring to venture out to a party with his cousin, Andrew is convinced to film Matt and his friend, Steve – the popular, class president wannabe, exploring a mysterious sinkhole in the woods. Inside they find a strange, glowing crystal structure that interferes with both the camera and their minds. After touching it, things go to hell and everything goes black.
We rejoin the trio filming themselves experimenting with their new abilities. Andrew, normally an outcast, seems to have found his place thanks to the strange turn of events. But, while showing off with his unpredictable powers, Andrew causes a near-fatal car accident that prompts the three to enforce a set of rules to protect themselves and others. The new rules don’t stop them from experimenting, and Steve and the others soon master flying (in what is one of my favorite moments of the movie).
The three are living the high-life and, after a successful use of their “magic” powers at the talent show, Andrew gets a taste of popularity. This leads to an embarrassing first sexual encounter that causes him to freak out an isolate himself from the group once more. His father, curious about Andrew’s new “social life” raids his room and finds his camera, accuses him of wasting his money, and beats on him (unsuccessfully). He flies off into the sky during a thunderstorm and Steve gives chase. During the argument, Steve is struck by lighting and dies.
Things go downhill quickly from there. Andrew is becoming more and more isolated, even from Matt, and thinks himself an “apex predator,” superior to normal humans (Magneto, anyone?). His mother’s failing health prompts him to strike out as a thief, but his first attempt goes sour and he ends up hospitalized. His father arrives, berates him for his mother’s death, and starts beating on his comatose form. Bad idea.
The climax pits Matt against the more experienced and aggressive Andrew in a superhero battle across Seattle. I won’t spoil the end, other than saying it’s left open for a possible sequel. Typically I’m not a fan of sequels, especially to something like this, but if they do make one that offers a few answers to the questions about their origin I’ll probably check it out.
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MY SCORE: (A-) When I saw the trailer months back I knew this was one film I wanted to see in theaters, and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a documentary about the birth of a superhero/villain learning to use their powers – think 9 seasons of Smallville in an hour and forty minutes.