The folly of youth
February 8, 2012
At age 24, high school buddies Josh Trank and Max Landis (son of director John Landis, “An American Werewolf in London”) reconnected on Facebook. Soon after, they began working on the script for “Chronicle,” a story focused on teens growing up in the glare of social media.
To hold costs down, director Trank employs both a cast of unknowns and “found” documentary footage. However, the work lavished on their script pays off in this modestly budgeted, $15 million dollar effort.
The video footage exists because high school senior, Andrew (a sleepy-eyed Dane DeHaan), is determined to document his father’s alcoholic rages on video. Feeling helpless as his mother lies on her deathbed, Andrew takes little solace from the company of his self-satisfied cousin Matt (Alex Russell), who infuriates Andrew with his college-bound good looks and precocious cool.
One night, circumstances conspire to send Andrew and his video camera, along with Matt, and Matt’s popular friend Steve (Michael B. Jordan), down a hole in the ground that leads to a glowing, crystallized vine. As it draws the lads near they feel compelled to touch it.
The next time we see them, the boys are hurling baseballs at one another on a sunny afternoon, and attempting to stop the balls using their newfound telekinetic powers.
During the early stages of exploring their abilities, they derive great pleasure from playing practical jokes on the unsuspecting. Everything changes, however, once they discover their ability to fly, and are filled with a sense of wonder.
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Their joy is brief, since it rapidly becomes apparent that Andrew’s bitterness has continued to fester and grow, and he has acquired a taste for revenge. His actions drive the story forward, and result in a climactic air battle over downtown Seattle.
Chief among the reasons to appreciate “Chronicle” is its avoidance of falling into the superhero/supervillain movie trap. However, it telegraphs its ending – always a disappointment. Matt and Steve’s belief that they can change Andrew’s attitude can be frustrating to watch, but on second thought, we were all young and idealistic once upon a time.