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Michael B. Jordan
Michael Kelly
Alex Russell.
Josh Trank.
Max Landis.
Running Time
83 minutes

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Superman: The home-movie

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Three teenage friends go down a hole in the woods and emerge with telekinetic capabilities. As their great powers grow, though, so does their sense of irresponsibility...

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Greenlighting a movie is a perilous business at the best of times. But there can surely be no more of a safe slam dunk in Hollywood than when two unknown but exuberant movie brats, one of them the son of the director of An American Werewolf In London, disrupt your morning San Pellegrino with a script that promises Blair Witch meets Carrie, as told by three teen characters that would make John Hughes blush. And then ask you for just $15 million to deliver it. Nobody knows anything, of course, but sometimes… Well, sometimes you don’t have to be Harvey Weinstein. Sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time.

Early on in its running time, Chronicle’s three unknown leads find themselves in a place that may either prove to be very right or very wrong, at an equally debatable time, when they discover some sort of Kryptonite-thing at the bottom of a big hole in the woods. The script, written by Max Landis, based on a concept by first-time feature director Josh Trank, injects some genuine, real-teen realities, as the three friends discover this close encounter has given them early-stage telekinesis. The condition has them first lark about, playing a sort of brain-based baseball, then cause all manner of hi-jinks on a visit to a shopping centre. Later, they start to stretch their skills — “It’s like a muscle,” says one, “we just have to learn to use it” — learning to fly, fight and, this being a teen movie based in approximate movie-truth, get laid.

To this point Chronicle is an immensely enjoyable superhero sci-fi, Sundance-cool yet shot with a studio sheen. It even makes a sincere effort to avoid the POV pitfall that has derailed so many found-footage movies since Burkittsville, its key documentarian, Dane (Detmer, channelling Basketball Diaries DiCaprio), learning to pilot his camcorder with his mind, thereby finding a neat (if not always successful) excuse why some shots can only have been achieved by a fourth party.

But then, after one of the trio abuses his powers in manipulating a car accident, causing a rift in the already fractious friendship, the movie accelerates astronomically, building and building and building again, to a climax so spectacular it borderline demands a standing ovation. In a world where trailers routinely give away the whole package in under three minutes, here is that rare thing: a movie that makes its promise and then over-delivers on it in a way that genuinely takes your breath away.

Make no mistake, Chronicle is by no means perfect. Primarily because, regardless of how decently rounded they are, its characters are possessed of a morality that stretches credulity. Three red-blooded teenage boys have gifted powers that could grant them unlimited girls, money and fame, and yet it takes them until act three to figure out that they might want to abuse them? It’s a nice thought, but one that wouldn’t have sat right 60 years ago, much less in the cynical I-want-it-nowness of the YouTube generation.

Still, you will be hard pushed to find a more essential leftfield movie experience this year. A true rarity, it manages to feel at once familiar — its ’80s sensibilities will strike chords with fans of Akira; and for telekenisis aficionados, there’s an on-stage sequence that riffs Carrie — and brand-spanking-new.

Crucial, too, is that this is a rough-edged first-time production that has — believe it or not — been put through the studio machine and emerged the better for it. In striving for a PG-13 rating, many of the original screenplay’s gruesome excesses have been toned down smartly. The gorehounds may bemoan it, but in another incarnation Chronicle could have been an exploding head away from another descendant of Scanners. Instead it is fresh and accessible, exciting and memorable, and marks out director Trank, who here executes two quite astonishing set-pieces, as a man with the power to do very great things. Little wonder Fox is considering him as a possible future for their Fantastic Four franchise. Here’s hoping.

A stunning superhero/sci-fi that has appeared out of nowhere to demand your immediate attention.

Reviewed by Mark Dinning

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Chronicle
Empire Star Rating


Heroes season one is ten times better than this - but that doesn't mean Josh Trank's mini- masterpiece isn't worth seeing. On the contrary, this film had me hooked from the get go. I dig superheroes and comic books anyway - but Trank was clearly pushing the boundaries within his limited budget and the results can only be commended. How many millions will they spend on the new Superman movie? Ten/twenty times more than what was spent here I'd wager - and yet there were times when I thought I was... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ROTGUT at 19:04, 13 February 2012 | Report This Post

Made the unbelievable, believable

As someone who was picked on at school and then got very good at martial arts, I was along for the ride with this. Personally, I can't agree with any of the points raised about the fx being bad, and if some of the choices made by the lead character aren't in line with "what you would do", just remember - they are not you! He's a crazy mixed up kid! Also not sure why anyone is calling this a superhero movie. With great power comes great responsibility, but this is more the tale of a su... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by sunflies at 00:46, 10 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Chronicle Review!

There's no denying the effects in Chronicle aren't necessarily it's strong point, but I would happily forgive lesser quality effects if the ambition of the film is strong enough. And this was an extremely ambitious film, whether or not the effects were realistic, the events they described were quite unique, unlike much I'd ever seen in terms of 'powers' movies. I loved Chronicle, loved its lo-fi quality, how you really bought into the lead character's development (or regression if you need... More

Posted by jrewing1000 at 22:41, 09 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Chronicle Review!

L: Gazdance I'd love to see what people consider good effects if people thought these were poor! Morons. eeing as I'm one of the "morons" that thought the effects in Chronicle were poor I thought I'd respond to you. Classy behaviour btw. Personally, I prefer my effects to be as subtle as possible, and have a physicality behind them. Here are a couple of films which have impressed me from an effects perspective. Inception - Kind of an obvious one really, but obvious for a rea... More

Posted by adambatman82 at 22:37, 09 February 2012 | Report This Post


it's not a great idea, it's very silly in parts and ultimately; it's nothing original. Also, the lead character is far too annoying. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 22:16, 09 February 2012 | Report This Post


much better than expected; well worth a watch. enjoy...... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by HERMES_67 at 21:32, 09 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Chronicle Review!

I'd love to see what people consider good effects if people thought these were poor! Morons. ... More

Posted by Gazdance at 21:31, 09 February 2012 | Report This Post

Chronicle Review!

Chronicle Review! Thoughrougly enjoyable superhero / sci- fi flick!! Uses the found footage style to great affect as our three main leads stumble on an unknown glowing abject and begin to possess great powers which gradually go out of control. How the film impresses is with it's strong characters. The first time director Josh Tank and and scripter Max Landis wisely cull humanity from within these young men as they first flirt with thier new powers, cue shopping mall pranks, and general g... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ramone87 at 19:39, 08 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Not bad

With the odd exception such as ield, the biggest fan of 'found footage' movies and think the subgenre has worn itself, but le eally pleasant surprise, a clever and original spin on superhero and teen themes. A really impressive achievement on a tiny budget, with effects that are better than many a big budget movie. /b] ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 19:12, 08 February 2012 | Report This Post

Not bad

Enjoyed this one, almost four stars for me. Was quite surprised by the camera perspective,hadn't picked that up in the previews. Most of it worked well, although with his powers Andrew could have made a fortune on the slot machines, no need for a crap raid on a supermarket. But nice to see something original. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bretty at 23:31, 06 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Chronicle

Suffers a little from the trappings of the well-worn found footage genre (the inclusion of Matt's blogging missus & her camera felt awfully weak), whilst the inclusion of a leading character singing along to Jessie J is never a good way to get me onsidesaid, it's a nice take on the superhero story, does a decent enough job of building the appropriate character arcs (even if they are extremely familiar) and the pay-off towards the end is worth the cinema trip alone. Nothing hugely groundbreaking... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 21:08, 06 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Chronicle

I quite enjoyed it. My main problem was not once did any character say something like "Wow we are like the X Men or Batman" or "Hey, do you think we should become superheros now" or "This is just like the comic books I used to read". Even if it was just one off the cuff line at somepoint, but nothing. As 3 teenage boys living in modern times you think someone could say something. It was very good but not excellent. The final sequence seemed to take ages and then was resolved very quick... More

Posted by Greggieboy at 20:31, 06 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Chronicle

Went into this blind on weekend having only seen the trailer 20 mins before I went and I think it's deserving of a 4 star review. ... More

Posted by Chief at 10:45, 06 February 2012 | Report This Post

The trailer

Just saw this... solid movie, good effects but everything that impresses you in it has been ruined by the trailer.. all the best bits are ruined apart from maybe one or two... I was disappointed ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Flem3297 at 23:18, 05 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Worst Film I've Seen

Now now - you know the rules. IMBder's don't count. Someone, somewhere thinks Wolverine is a masterpiece. I do find it funny we have gone from no one being interested in the film, to it getting very positive reviews, to now and folks saying it is overhyped, all in the space of a week. Is that the fastest turnaround for a film yet? ... More

Posted by Rgirvan44 at 16:58, 05 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Worst Film I've Seen

L: Rgirvan44 Is anyone really saying it is a masterpiece? ep. Check out the comments section here - "I loved every. single.muther. friggin part of the epic sci-fi/action masterpiece CHRONICLE!" ws/news/?a=54110&t=BOX_OFFICE_CHRONICLE_Beats_THE_WOMAN _IN_BLACK_To_Take_The_Weekend_1_Spotnd this is from a review. "In a year when audiences are hungry for more super-hero epics, and in a year when heavy hitters like The Aveng... More

Posted by adambatman82 at 16:49, 05 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Worst Film I've Seen

A good solid low budget flick that puts a new spin on an old idea. Not massively original but very entertaining. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Darth Loony at 15:38, 05 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Worst Film I've Seen

I would say it is one of the better superhero movies of recent years. Much prefered it to last years Marvel movies. And it isn't setting up sequels/prequels which is refreshing. ... More

Posted by Rgirvan44 at 14:41, 05 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Worst Film I've Seen

L: adambatman82 I thought this was alright, but not the masterpiece many have been claiming it to be. The lead actor was dreadful, the effects looked awful, and the found footage angle was stretched to its extremes in terms of the plausibility of the sheer number of cameras being used to record the damn thing! The final act was great tho. s anyone really saying it is a masterpiece? Ever review I have seen says that it is a very good superhero film. Which is what I think it is as well... More

Posted by Rgirvan44 at 14:39, 05 February 2012 | Report This Post

Worst Film I've Ever Seen?

That bloke obviously hasn't seen Sister Act 2. Went to see this last night and thought it was excellent - well worthy of the 4 star review. Really refreshing take on the superhero film - and, unlike other filmed in the first person movies, this one worked really well (they come up with a neat trick so someone isn't constantly holding the camera). ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by fergiecool at 09:37, 05 February 2012 | Report This Post

Chronicle Review

It arrives during a glut of found-footage films, but Chronicle transcends its gimmicks with a smart script, fast-paced direction, and engaging performances from its young, talented cast. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 00:01, 05 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Rude

L: Ceekayck Smh at Michael B. Jordan being 'unknown'. h yes, who could forget his memorable turn in 2009's Pastor Brown? Or his world famous performance as Jamal in the 2001 Keanu Reeves vehicle Hard Ball...? SMH indeed. ... More

Posted by adambatman82 at 21:44, 03 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Worst Film I've Seen

I thought this was alright, but not the masterpiece many have been claiming it to be. The lead actor was dreadful, the effects looked awful, and the found footage angle was stretched to its extremes in terms of the plausibility of the sheer number of cameras being used to record the damn thing! The final act was great tho. ... More

Posted by adambatman82 at 21:32, 03 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Worst Film I've Seen

I liked this a lot however I feel the found footage way of shooting it took away from the movie as there were moments where they really struggled to have a reason for someone to have a camera, for example the Casey character. I think it also took away from the final confrontation. Still I did enjoy the movie and the climax to the final confrontation was awesome ... More

Posted by musht at 00:00, 03 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Worst Film I've Seen

Saw this today, and despite suffering some 'superhero' fatigue of late, found it to be a solid 90 minutes entertainment. The 'found footage' element added to the film as a whole, and the floating camera was a good way to get around a entire shakycam experience. The last third is by far the strongest part, and the director manages to to display some pretty incredible stuff with his limited budget. The flying sequences in particular, are an absolute standout. It did get me to thinking how on eart... More

Posted by film man aidy at 23:03, 02 February 2012 | Report This Post

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