DVD Review: Chronicle

STUDIO: Fox | DIRECTOR: Josh Trank | CAST: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly, Ashley Hinshaw
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 5/15/2012 | PRICE: DVD $29.98, Blu-ray $39.99
BONUSES: deleted scene, pre-viz, camera test, soundtrack information
SPECS: PG-13 | 84 min. | Science fiction thriller | 1.85:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1/DTS Master Audio 5.1udio | English, French and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio  | Video  | Overall

Mixing the previously-tackled subject of teen telekinesis (as we’ve seen in the Brian De Palma films Carrie and The Fury and, hell, even the silly comedy Zapped!) with the found-footage-shot-by-a-shaky-single-camera approach that’s been a genre staple since The Blair Witch Project, the science fiction thriller Chronicle sets out to prove the adage that everything old is new again. And if it’s not wholly new, well then at least it can be a little different.

Chronicle movie scene

Dane DeHaan uses his powers in Chronicle.

Chronicle finds a trio of Seattle high school students—popular Steve (Michael B. Jordan), regular guy Matt (Alex Russell) and troubled teen Andrew (Dane DeHaan) –are attending an outdoor rave when they stumble across a mysterious glowing crystal in a hidden cave.  The next thing they know, the boys have developed telekinetic abilities. Early on, they use their powers for mild pranks and games, but as their abilities grow more powerful with each passing day, the mild stuff gives way to darker pursuits, which include flying alongside jet planes and striking back at an abusive father. The benefits and dangers of said powers are all “recorded” by Andrew, who early has announced that he is making a minute-by-minute documentary of his life.

As the movie progresses, Chronicle begins to broaden its visual scope beyond the boundaries of Andrew’s camcorder (which is at it’s most effectively eerie he floats the camera in the air to shoot film himself below) and includes views taken from surveillance and security cameras. Though it’s sort of necessary to capture the film high-flying, climactic action sequences that lay waste to a chunk of downtown Seattle, it’s glaringly inconsistent with what we’ve seen before via Andrew’s camcorder. Perhaps if the multi-camera style was incorporated into the story earlier on I wouldn’t have minded, but as it only kicks in for the film’s final quarter, it feels a bit like cheating.  Still, that could be considered nitpicking at director Josh Trank’s feature film debut, as the finale and other effects-filled sequences look pretty good considering the relative confines of the film’s $15 million budget.

The disc’s bonus features are pretty slight and include a single deleted scene, some camera test footage and pre-visualization computer footage that laid the groundwork for the film’s nifty, budget-conscious visual effects.

 

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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.