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Hollywood Product: Chronicle

Angsty teens lay waste to Seattle in this super-powered film



GENRE: Found Footage Sci-fi

THE PITCH: Sounds oddly like a joke setup - two jocks and an emo kid with a camera walk into a cave in Seattle ... but come out with telekinetic abilities. Using their newfound powers for mostly hijinks, things quickly turn when Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan) - the awkward outsider of the trio veers down a sinister path. Think The Craft meets Paranormal Activity with a twinge of Carrie.

MONEY SHOT: Probably one of the best example of a telekinetic smackdown I've ever seen, Andrew's cousin Matt Garetty (Alex Russell) uses his powers to save the his girl crush, Casey (Ashley Hinshaw) and people in downtown Seattle area. The two fight midair, hurling cars like toys, crash through buildings on a scale more akin to a big budget Marvel comics feature.

BEST LINE: The strain of using their abilities often cause nose bleeds. Steve (Michael B. Jordan) pulls off a new telekinetic trick that pushes him to the limits. When the camera is back on him as he's clotting his nose saying, "I'm having a face period." Compared to the other two central characters, Steve has the best lines. In a mall parking lot, Steve wills a woman's car to move into a new parking space. When she comes back looking for the car he jokes, "Yes, it was the black guy this time."

WORST LINE: Anything from Matt. His true-blue nature becomes annoying, especially when he opens his mouth. Typically whenever Andrew does something he doesn't approve of he whines, "Why did you do that, we have to be better than this." Needless to say Matt ends up saying statements like this throughout the film.

BEST USE OF TELEKINETIC ABILITY: Flying. Andrew is the first to figure out they can levitate off the ground and propel themselves at incredible speeds. The three spend a lot of time miles above the city of Seattle.

NUMBER OF TIMES ANDREW GETS HIS ASS KICKED: Five. Poor Andrew, He gets crapped on a lot. Aside from his dysfunctional home life, he also the senior class punching bag.

NUMBER OF ASSES ANDREW KICKS: Not including law enforcement, Andrew TKOs seven people, some fatally.

HE SAID HE WAS A WHAT? Brooding and alone, Andrew confesses to the camera the realization that he and his friends are "Apex predators." According to Wikipedia, they're defined as predators that have no predators of their own, residing at the top of the food chain. Other animals considered to as apex predators include the honey badger, king cobras, lions, bald eagles, killer whales, and humans.

PRODUCT PLACEMENT: Matt tries to manage finesse his control of objects by trying to connect and stack Legos. Andrew who seemed more adept to telekinesis puts the plastic bricks together with lightning speed and builds a tower in the process. Hanging out with the group at school, Steve shows a new talent by willing Pringle's potato chips out of the can and into his mouth in an almost caricature arching fashion. He washes the chips down with a Pepsi.

POLITICAL AGENDA: Andrew's mother, Karen (Bo Petersen) is terminally ill, requiring expensive medicine and treatments. Unfortunately his father Richard (Michael Kelly), a disabled fireman can't afford quality care. This mix of circumstances illustrates the strain on this impoverished family and more importantly its effect on young Andrew - which ultimately becomes one of the many issues he internalizes that push him over the edge.

BOTTOM LINE: Director Josh Trank makes his debut on the big screen with an ambitious project - making something seemingly so impossible seem realistic. He cleverly pulls it off by using the film trick-du-jour of late, found footage - a collection of mock private and surveillance video footage. We've seen this camera trickery and visual effects translate well in television commercials and Oren Peli's Paranormal Activity series. Just like the aforementioned film franchise, a character-focused script lends to the credibility of whats happening on camera and makes the experience a bit more personal. The three male leads, DeHaan as the outcast, Russell as the jock and Jordan as the golden child have an amazing chemistry that builds on itself as their powers and emotional connections progress.

As with any teenage thriller, its not without its share of stereotypical characters and predictable plot elements. Even the super-powered slugfest during its climatic ending, you know exactly whats going to happen well before it occurs. The scenes are so keyframed to the visual effects, everything else becomes basic. So much of the suspense is lost at this point you can easily become complete apathetic and interest wanes.

Chronicle has a lot of likable elements: a great cast, a relatively good script and some killer visual effects, that make it worth watching. But beware of the predictable pratfalls and heavy moral subtext that makes the film a bit too heavy at times.

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Official Site:

Director: Josh Trank

Writer: Max Landis

Producer: John Davis and Adam Schroeder

Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Dane DeHaan, Michael Kelly, Ashley Hinshaw, Anna Wood, Alex Russell, Joe Vaz, Luke Tyler and Matthew Dylan Roberts

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