Saturday, February 11, 2012

Phil sees CHRONICLE at the Camera 12 Downtown San Jose-February 10, 2012

Now I love movies, and during the winter season, there have been a bevy of films that I've thoroughly enjoyed that you, my faithful followers, have been reading about in my blog. However, there hasn't been hardly any horror/sci-fi films that have sparked my interest. I mean let's face it, the first horror film of the year THE DEVIL INSIDE was a complete disaster and disappointment. But then I rebounded from that atrocity by heading down to the Camera 12 where I saw CHRONICLE, which literally blew me away!

Theatrical Movie Poster (2012)
The film follows the socially awkward and shy Andrew Detmer (Dana DeHaan), who purchases a video camera and begins to document his painful existence: his drunken and abusive father, his sick and dying mother, his plights at school which mostly consist of being picked on and bullied on a regular basis. Then one day his cousin Matt (Alex Russell) takes him to his first high school party later on that night. There Andrew meets Steve Montgomery (Michael B. Jordan), the most popular kids in school who is also running for class president. Steve grabs Andrew and takes him (and his camera) into the woods were the boys find a deep hole where they discover what appears to be some sort of Krytonian artifact that looks to a prop from a SUPERMAN film. Nevertheless, this strange artifact bestows upon them the power of telekinesis, the ability to move objects with their mind. Soon our young friends begin to experiment with what they can do with their new powers. They first see what they can do (stopping balls in mid-air), then they play harmless pranks on people (Steve moves a lady's car from her parking spot to another spot while in a toy store they scare a little girl by making a big stuff teddy bear move) and soon discover their ability to fly. But when they're being honked by "rednecks" while driving on a wet, raining road, Andrew goes too far and mind swipes them off the road. Andrew finally succumbs to his bottled up anger and begins to lose control and starts hurting people with his powers for his own pleasure and for revenge. Both Matt and Steve begin to worry about Andrew as he slips further away from them and begins to embrace both his anger and his power.

The first thing that came to mind was the old Stan Lee verbiage from the Spider-Man comic books, "With great power, comes great responsibility." The second thing that came to mind was that the film was an amalgam of CLOVERFIRELD and CARRIE, but with just a dash of STAR WARS. Now as I mentioned in my review of THE DEVIL INSIDE, the whole found footage/documentary footage idea had been done to death. However, it works here because one: the film stars no-name actors who bring a sense of believability and reality to it. You really feel sympathetic towards Andrew, as he struggles to find himself and to find acceptance among his classmates. His attempt to make friends via entering the school's talent show to show off his "magic skills" earns him popularity. However it is only short lived, and he's once again an outcast.

One has to wonder what if DeHaan was cast in the STAR WARS prequels instead of Hayden Christensen, because he pulled of what he couldn't do. Right away we know he is an angry young man, because of his folks and being shunned at school. Then he is given a power that he can use to get back at his tormentors. His slow dissent into madness is paced perfectly and his hatred at those who have done him wrong are dealt with most heinously. Overall a great performance by DeHaan!

The second item on my list as to why I enjoyed the film was the very cool special effects that doesn't truly overtake the film. While you need special effects and CGI to tell this type of sci-fi film, it adds to the story and not just bombard you with CGI after CGI after CGI effetcs. There is really a great story here and it comes courtesy of screenwriter Max Landis, the son of famed filmmaker John Landis! Also the film was the debut of director Josh Trank, who keeps the film moving at the right speed and gives us some great scenes and set ups, not to mention the clever way of how the film is pieced together by using a variety of cameras, ranging from Andrew's camera to hospital security cameras to streetlight videos.

CHRONICLE is this year's best sci-fi release thus far, but the bar has been set pretty high with this film. I am very curious as to how Hollywood will top this film. But whatever you do, don't hold your breath. Instead, just go see this film over and over again. You'll be glad you did! Five out of five stars!

CHRONICLE is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!


  1. Not a fan of found-footage films, but I so want to see this. It sounds so interesting : )
    Thank you for reviewing it Phil. I love reading your reviews : )

    1. Like I said, I'm not a fan either, but this film was a great and it is such a clever film. It could also be a cautionary tale about the affects of child abuse and the consequences of not taking action to prevent or stop it.