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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Michael B. Jordan
Michael Kelly
Alex Russell.
Directors
Josh Trank.
Screenwriters
Max Landis.
Running Time
83 minutes

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Chronicle
Superman: The home-movie


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Plot
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...


Review
Chronicle
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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.


Verdict
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

Worst Film I've Seen

I just have to say that I've never disagreed with a review this strongly before. And that includes Attack of the Clones. I found almost every aspect of this movie to be poor, but the main reason it grated on my nerves so much had to be the main character. It wasn't the acting- he wasn't given anything to do, never mind possibly mess up- but the character was written to be so unlikable it distracted from everything else. Except for the unavoidably (due to budget constraints) bad effects. Whil... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by colmshan1990 at 18:30, 02 February 2012 | Report This Post


Worst Film I've Seen

I just have to say that I've never disagreed with a review this strongly before. And that includes Attack of the Clones. I found almost every aspect of this movie to be poor, but the main reason it grated on my nerves so much had to be the main character. It wasn't the acting- he wasn't given anything to do, never mind possibly mess up- but the character was written to be so unlikable it distracted from everything else. Except for the unavoidably (due to budget constraints) bad effects. Whil... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by colmshan1990 at 18:30, 02 February 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Chronicle

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, etmerelling 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.ane Detmer? Don't you mean Dane DeHann? ... More

Posted by magicwings at 01:08, 02 February 2012 | Report This Post


I thought it was great. A truly interesting and well executed sci-fi film with genuine laughs and genuine shocks. I love that we're pretty much left in the dark about what actually happened to them, but I know that'll be the reason a lot of people won't like it. It'll be Cloverfield all over again... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Whistler at 19:17, 01 February 2012 | Report This Post


Poor

All I can say is this has everything. Everything as in bad acting, poor story and dire special effects (flying bus). I really wanted to walk out of this but had to endure this rubbish due to work. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by J_BUltimatum at 07:38, 01 February 2012 | Report This Post


What's wrong with people on this site...

I don't know how you come to the conclusion the guy was being as you put it 'rude' and gave 'puerile reactions'. Are you a complete and utter ass. He was stating HIS opinion on the mixed reviews matter. Everyone has an opinion on something not just you and most of the time people are going to disagree (this is a movie review forum after all). Or are you too much of a stuck up bastard to see that. Changing the subject this movie is getting rave reviews. Total Film even gave it a 5 star revi... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by SUPER_movie_FREAK at 00:12, 01 February 2012 | Report This Post


What's wrong with people on this site...

I don't know how you come to the conclusion the guy was being as you put it 'rude' and gave 'puerile reactions'. Are you a complete and utter ass. He was stating HIS opinion on the mixed reviews matter. Everyone has an opinion on something not just you and most of the time people are going to disagree (this is a movie review forum after all). Or are you too much of a stuck up bastard to see that. Changing the subject this movie is getting rave reviews. Total Film even gave it a 5 star revi... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by SUPER_movie_FREAK at 23:41, 31 January 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Rude

Smh at Michael B. Jordan being 'unknown'. ... More

Posted by Ceekayck at 19:10, 31 January 2012 | Report This Post


Rude

There is no need to be so offensive. http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/filmblog/2012/jan/27/c hronicle-found-footage-superhero-powers I was just reflecting my opinion, and as I stated feel positive towards the film. Why is it that you can't even make the mildest of statements on comments sections of any website without provoking puerile reactions. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by SeanJenkins1 at 16:54, 31 January 2012 | Report This Post


Actually is getting very good reviews

I don't where the mixed reviews nonsense is coming from. This movie has been getting a lot of praise so far, which is surprising for a movie of this genre. I thought the "found footage" structure engaging; I really felt like I was watching real teenage boys, minus the telekinesis and flying part. The three leads were wonderful (By the way, the documentarian's name in the movie is Andrew Detmer; he is played by Dane DeHaan), and the climax was a pure white-knuckled thrill ride. Highly r... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by FinalDestination018 at 01:04, 31 January 2012 | Report This Post


Mixed reviews

I have read 2 other reviews of this, and they say that the found footage structure limits this film massively and could of been far better had they been a little looser with the conventions of the genre but my anticipation which was dampened has now been reignited after reading this. Hopefully see at the weekend. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by SeanJenkins1 at 19:54, 30 January 2012 | Report This Post


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