Film Review: Chronicle

(Published in Issue 7 of my publication In Retrospect)


Directed by Josh Trank, Chronicle is a found footage style science fiction film that sees three high school friends, Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan), Steve Montgomery (Michael B. Jordan), and Matt Garetty (Alex Russell), gain superpowers after making an incredible discovery. Whilst at first they only use their telekinetic abilities in secret, they soon find their lives spinning out of control and their new bond of friendship tested. Realising that their newfound superpowers can be manipulated and strengthened, Andrew, who has spent his life being pushed around by both his family and his classmates, begins to embrace his darker side. Identifying himself as an apex predator, Andrew convinces himself that he shouldn’t have to feel guilty for using his powers, especially when using them to hurt those weaker than himself.

The film begins with, believe it or not, our protagonist Andrew buying a hand-held camera and, intending to take it everywhere he goes, decides to start filming the ins-and-outs of his daily life. Whilst at first this opens up the darker side of the film, seeing Andrew’s drunk father haul abuse at him, the film quickly and cleverly develops into something much more than a typical superhero teen drama.

Chronicle is a new twist on the traditional theme. With many other films currently experimenting with the camera-footage/documentary style genre, including that of the recent Apollo 18 and the Paranormal Activity franchise, Chronicle is a more of an imaginative approach to the genre. With a less-horror more-action styled take, you can actually enjoy the film without being scared out of your skin or wondering what’s going on from the shaky camera and use of dark settings. Found-footage films often lack story and character development, but Chronicle breaks these genre boundaries and goes beyond by encompassing a gripping central which, for director Trank, is an incredible accomplishment for his first film.

In going beyond, Chronicle uses many techniques to avoid only having footage that is filmed by one person. As well as the use of camera phones, security footage, and police surveillance tapes, Andrew learns to pilot his camcorder with his mind, thereby finding a fourth party to fill in much more plot than we would normally expect. Through this technique, especially with the camera being able to hold itself up, we also get to know the characters much better. The three friends are genuinely quite likeable which, being able to form an opinion in itself, is a step up altogether. Finding yourself actually caring about what happens to these three main characters alongside this filming style allows us, as the audience, to actually find ourselves relating to the experience.

But even though the film is primarily filmed on low-definition cameras, the visuals throughout this film are fantastic. Without any need for big special effects like bigger budget action films, Chronicle has great cinematography without the need for massive explosions or any other similarities to superhero movies such as Iron Man. Chronicle is far from mainstream, and because of this the film looks genuine and works without having to impress with unnecessary additions.

So, will Chronicle stand out against this year’s many other superhero films? With Marvel’s The Avengers (or Avengers Assemble as it is now titled), The Dark Knight Rises and The Amazing Spider-Man set to be released this, I think it definitely has a chance of being well-remembered in comparison to them, as it has undeniably raised the bar for found-footage and teenage superhero style films.

Some of the film did have to be toned down for its PG-13 rating but, whilst at the core, there is an incredibly dark and intense story, Chronicle is still a fun and intelligent film to watch.

This article got Freshly Pressed 🙂

About Charlie Morris

Proofreader and film blogger living in Cornwall.

112 Responses

  1. Great review — I’ve been toying with the idea of taking my movie buff of a 12-year-old to see it, but I’m afraid it may be too dark. I may have to pre-screen, just to be safe…



    1. Nando

      I took my daughter to see it and she was definitely crying when something happened to one of the three characters. The ending was also a little too intense for her. I definitely was not expecting how dark the movie was going to be. I will definitely not do that again!


  2. Congrats in being freshly pressed, I was not really a fan of this movie. I really feel there was more they could have done with their “powers” and less random things.


      1. As a post-highschooler, I have to put in that this is *exactly* what would happen if a couple of teenage guys got superpowers–stupid shit. One of the things I most enjoyed about Chronicle was its refreshing realism.


  3. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. I would like to see this movie. I think it puts a new spin on superhero movies and I doubt it will be all that I want in a movie. These days so few movies are but I am looking forward to The Avengers and the final Batman trilogy.


  4. Miriam Joy

    A few friends of mine went to see this (while the rest of us were screaming at the Woman in Black, ha ha), and their reviews were quite mixed. Some of them said it became a bit ridiculous towards the end. Your review paints it in a pretty positive light, though, so maybe I should give it a chance?

    Congrats on Freshly Pressed, by the way.


  5. robertdickinsonphotography

    its a good film and quite good storyline gets darker near the end, great review and congrats on freshly pressed 🙂


  6. Hi , I am a new blogger.. actually I haven’t blog anything yet. i just happen to read your review.. really nice:} mkes me wanna blog anything about movie/book reviews


      1. Wow, thank you. I ‘ll do my best .. I love books and films I just don’t know if Im good enough to put my fandom into words.. anyways, thanks again!


  7. I’m going to have to disagree with you here. I didn’t think it was intelligent and I didn’t think it was fun. I hope this “found footage” fad dies out quickly, because all that camera motion and commotion makes me dizzy and sick. Good review, though, and congrats on being Fresh Pressed!


    1. I typically agree regarding the found footage subgenre and the handheld camera style; but I think telekinesis makes the style interesting. I found the film enjoyable and innovative; though it probably won’t compare to the big budget offerings from Nolan and Whedon this summer. However, I imagine the telekinesis makes the motion sickness that much worse, sort of Cloverfield on meth amphetamines which would make the overall experience a lesser one.


      1. Sorry, I think I may have been unclear. I agree with your assessment, I enjoyed the film and found that using telekinesis to “shoot” the movie was pretty great. However if one gets motion sickness (as themovieblogger does) then some shots might be worse than normal such as when they learn to levitate using their powers and the camera “jumps” thousands of feet in an instant.


  8. Nanto Dwyer

    Great review, in my opinion. the only thing I didn’t exactly enjoy (but didn’t necessarily hate) while watching this movie was how it seemed a bit rushed. but then again, that fits quite nicely into the nature of found footage.


  9. Great review! I felt a little sick at the beginning with the camera motion and was really glad when he was able to hold it still. This was an interesting movie. I had no idea what this film was about when I went to see it. I like sci-fi a lot, but this just wasn’t one of my favorites. Congrats on being freshly pressed!


  10. Watched this movie and kinda like it. But it’s kinda tough to compare with other well-known franchises. However, it is surely fun to watch! And congrats on being freshly pressed!


  11. Great review! This gives me more reasons to watch the film, especially when you said: “Found-footage films often lack story and character development, but Chronicle breaks these genre boundaries and goes beyond by encompassing a gripping central which, for director Trank, is an incredible accomplishment for his first film.” I was also thinking of doing film reviews, but I guess, my time doesn’t allow me yet. Congrats on making it to Freshly Pressed!


  12. Hmm.. this movie. Everyone’s been talking about it but the trailer was one of the worst I’ve seen. Then I check rotten tomatoes and it gets almost 90% – shocked and appalled!


  13. fantastic review! I just became aware of this movie today when I saw nigahiga’s (youtube) parody of its trailer. It tickled my curiosity so i searched and found your blog!


  14. Paragraph Film Reviews

    Congratulations on being freshly pressed. I am unlimiteldly jealous! Agree that it’s a good, fresh idea for the genre, but wasn’t won over by the ending.


      1. Paragraph Film Reviews

        Just felt out of place, the whole rest of the film is low-key, experimenting with new abilites then out of nowhere it’s a massive city-wrecking marvel fight. Just felt a little odd. Would have been pretty bleak if they were all dead.. would love to have seen the ‘apex predator’ ‘do a spider’ on the good guy!


  15. Everything about this film, at least the impression that I get from the trailers, screams “AKIRA” ripoff to me. I’m actually surprised that more people haven’t picked up on that. “AKIRA” is one of my favorite films, and the graphic novels are amazing. Skepticism aside, if there’s one good thing that comes from “Chronicle” it’s the fact that a live action adaptation of “AKIRA” has been green-lit by Warner Brothers because of it.


  16. thanks for not finding a way to make the review about yourself. a common mistake among amateur film critics is to look for a witty way to drag some personal anecdotes and weave them into the review. it’s annoying, and you didn’t do that. you made it about the movie. i still won’t see the movie because i’m tired of the “make it look like real footage” thing. it worked for the blair witch project. that’s about it, as far as i can remember.


  17. I personally loved the film, although I’d love to hear what your opinions are of the end of it. I don’t want to say it in detail here to be sure I don’t ruin it for anyone, but I’ll say that I wish it had ended much differently. It would’ve made the entire movie much more refreshing in a way.


  18. Great article! I have yet to see this film, but I’ve been wanted to since the first trailer popped up online. (So, thanks for not giving away too much of the plot!)

    I would have to agree with how over the top all these super hero movies coming out are. When I watch a film, I want to be able to connect with (at least one of) the characters, I want to be able to invest my attention and emotions into the experience. But all these high-budget, green-screened projects have little to no emotional depth. Gross.

    Until Meryl Streep or Ewan McGregor land a hero role, I doubt we’ll be seeing any tear-filled movie-goers filing for the exits after the latest re-invention of Spiderman or Batman. I’m still waiting.


  19. higashiomok

    Personally I found it wasn’t really memorable in itself, though it did offer a nice template for other cinematographers that will dive into found footage filming.

    It had it’s moments and jaw droppers, but it didn’t leave a lasting impression the way some of the other feature films within the past few years have. Though to be fair, the characters are the most memorable part of the film, not the effects.

    I expected more from the film, but I realized afterwards; any more would have been too much and broken the sense of realism. Good film, nice review.


  20. growingmuscle

    Great film, a litle disappointed in how short it was, but it very accurately shows what people their age would do in these situations. Agree on the way they use different CCTV cameras for example, as i was a bit worried it was going to be very Blair Witch one dimensional


  21. junkiestew

    Nice and coherently written; you have me intrigued. I actually really like good horror, but after seeing how Hollywood has played with horror recently (The Woman In Black, anyone?) I would like to see something different, yet still somewhat psychologically interesting. Some superhero films can really suck and some can try to hard; this one sounds a little bit like the tv show Heroes but it might be fun to see at the cinema. It would be refreshing to see ANYTHING that is not trying to be too showy and in the process looking pathetic; I like style (don’t get me wrong), but give me some content PLEEEEEEEEEASE! I may of course hate this (it’s been known to happen) – thanks for the review.


  22. shammee

    i really liked d way u mentioned every detail , can i ask you a favour ?
    i was thinking to download The Zodiac movie , but just in case if i can find a reasonable review , it would be of much help .
    thank you


  23. First I just want to say, great review! I saw previews for Chronicle, and instantly thought it could be -really- good, though I wasn’t sure because of the point of view that the preview was from (now I know a little more about the movie because of your review, and I am definitely going to see it). I think you could be a -great- film journalist!
    There were just a couple of things though, that I think you might want to fix – I am assuming that this was for school, hence the intense grammatical critique.

    1st paragraph, last sentence, you say “Andrew convinces himself that he shouldn’t have to feel guilty for using his power, especially when using them to hurt those weaker than himself.” and either power should be powers, or them should be it. telekinesis is a single ability, though it could be considered more than one depending on how it’s used I guess, so yeah. lol.

    3rd paragraph, 1st sentence – it seems a little long in glancing at it without actually reading the words, though I don’t think it’s -technically- a run-on. Then about half way through that sentence, I think you mean “a breath of fresh air”, instead of “a fresh of breath air”. Also, as much as I hate it, cliche’s are cliche’s because they are over-used, though sometimes a different string of words can be too clumsy when naturally reading. I think it fits perfectly though, and it normally wouldn’t stand out were it not for the mistake.

    4th paragraph, about half-way through, I think you mean (the) camera instead of just camera

    Again great review! I was only 50/50 on it before, and like I said, after reading this I will definitely go see the movie!


      1. yeah, I meant university, lol. I might have gathered that if I’d read all the other comments, but there are a lot of them and (to be lazy) it is easier to communicate directly with you instead. That’s pretty damn good for a first draft! How close are you to finishing at Falmouth?


      2. Sweet! I’m only just beginning my schooling. Taking it slow and trying to write as much as possible. I’m only a certified nursing assistant now, but I’m going for LPN (licensed nurse practitioner) for a while before actually getting my RN (plus I’m doing other small things along the way, like massage classes and other short things) – so I’ve got a ways to go, but I’m taking as many writing classes as possible. Not really hoping to hit it big or anything like the really famous authors, just want a shelf full of books with my name on them. lol. Is that vain?
        Do you have many perspective employers? I’ve always heard it’s hard being a journalist, and it sounds even harder to be specialized. Just curious. Nice site by the way. Mine isn’t quite so… centrally focused, because of the different books I’m -trying- to write, lol.


  24. Saw the trailer for this way back whenever, and I got all excited! (I really am the cool-trailer makers wet dream, I can fall for anything as long as it looks cool enough in the trailer format – but hey, at least I’m aware of it right?).

    I clicked in to read your review with some trepidation, as I didn’t want too much revealed – but you really nailed what a good review is! Just enough information to make someone that’s only seen the trailer feel like they found out a little more, but nothing really big.
    I’m now more excited than ever!

    ………and surfing in to my local cinema’s website to tell you how long I have to wait before I can see it, I realize that I’ve been a total ignoramus! I didn’t think it had opened yet (I live in a small town in the north of Sweden), and it turns out it’s been running for almost a month now!!!
    -Bleeding f**king hell, I’m gonna have to go see it tomorrow!


  25. I just saw this last night!

    I agree with this post in a lot of ways but for me this was a 3 star film definitely. I just felt there were some major flaws in it. For one thing, the character development seemed to be really well done to begin with, but then it seemed to get a little out of control. It was very steady, made total sense, then became just a bit unbelievable.

    Now, to be fair, I wasn’t feeling 100% when I went in and the shaky-cam effects did nothing to ease my upset stomach so I could just be bitter. But I liked a lot of it, and I felt it let itself down in places. Had more potential, I felt, than was actually delivered on.


  26. metinrealist


    from holland , you have very interest i waiting you pleas your written me , you are soo goodlook

    and cool girl



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