‘Chronicle’ impresses with visuals, engaging cast

In the past year, the amount of found-footage movies has grown exponentially. It all started with “The Blair Witch Project” in 1999 and has since evolved into a crowded genre with popular works such as the “Paranormal Activity” series and “Cloverfield” bludgeoning the format to death.

“Chronicle,” directed by John Trank, continues Hollywood’s latest gimmick with narrating stories through the use of Walmart video camcorders.

However, beneath the tackiness and hackneyed found-footage style, “Chronicle” offers an engaging storyline with great pace.

At its core, Trank’s directorial debut is a superhero film. It’s not your typical Marvel comic one, though.

Although fictitious, it’s set in a believable environment with genuine characters.

“Chronicle” follows three high school students—Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan), Steve Montgomery (Michael B. Jordan) and Matt Garetty (Alex Russell)—as they develop telekinetic powers after coming across a mysterious crystalline object in an underground cave.

The three friends learn to master their powers and initially only use them to interact with objects and pull pranks on people.

However, the film’s protagonist, Andrew, begins to slowly abuse his powers.

The reason why “Chronicle” tops most films of its kind is because of its dynamic and engaging script.

The storyline can easily be compared to that of a Shakespearean tragedy the way its protagonist corrupts absolutely.

Andrew, a high school senior, is one of those sheltered teens who gets bullied often and leads a socially awkward life.

It’s not until he receives his telekinetic powers that he begins to develop strong friendships with both Steve and Matt (his cousin).

Another characteristic of “Chronicle” which stands out is its fast-paced direction.

Clocking in at only one hour and 23 minutes, Trank skillfully moves the script ahead at an extraordinarily pace without getting caught up too much in dialogue and instead making the film a more visual experience.

The movie is also led by a young, yet very talented cast in DeHaan, Jordan and Russell.

Each actor’s character plays beautifully off one another.

Most impressive of the bunch is DeHaan, who portrays Andrew’s character exceptionally well.

Trank’s production team, led by John Davis and Adam Schroeder, also deserves recognition for its use of blending CGI elements with real world environments. The objects Andrew, Steve and Matt interact with are manipulated perfectly on screen and it adds to the visual flair this film possesses.

The downside of “Chronicle” is the fact that it was shot in the overdone found-footage format, which really hinders the film’s visual experience due to shaky camera work in some scenes. The movie could have been a lot better if it were shot in a more traditional way.

The explanation to why Andrew must use a camera to film every character in the movie is pretty weak as well, using the famous excuse that he “must document his life.” But why is that? The writers don’t explain this much.

Even though the found-footage format hinders this particular type of movie, “Chronicle” offers a reaping reward for viewers who can manage to get past the occasional camera shake.

It features dazzling visuals, a powerhouse script and an engaging cast. It’s the best movie to be released in theaters this year by a long shot.

JACOB TARR

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