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Four-word review of Chronicle: Screw you, Spider-Man.

You remember Spider-Man, right? (It's okay if not: a new version is due this summer.) Teenage outcast gains incredible powers, lets said powers go to his head, loses beloved parental figure, ultimately learns that "With great power comes great responsibility." Chronicle is a lot like that - except for the last part.

High-school senior Andrew has it rough. Dad was a firefighter, but got hurt on the job. Now Dad drinks and takes his frustration out on his son. Mom is sick and in pain, and there isn't money for her medication. So Andrew buys a camera and starts filming things, explaining, "I film things now."

Wait, what?

Yeah, I didn't get it either. At first, it looks like maybe he's doing it so that his father will leave him alone - camera as witness and all that. But no, he's bringing it to school, filming himself eating lunch while he watches cheerleader practice. Someone tells him that the camera puts barriers between him and other people, and he replies that maybe he likes it that way. But no, when the barriers start to break down, he keeps filming. Then, when he and his cousin and another fellow gain telekinetic powers after finding Something Strange, it looks like he's chronicling the development of those powers - hence the film's title. But no, the filming goes long after that stops; goes on well into territory that Andrew would in all likelihood not want to record; goes on, in fact, until it can go on no longer, and the gimmick demands that we cut to building security cameras and police helicopter cams. Why? Because, um - hey look! Anger issues!

Moving on: another possible review of Chronicle, this time in just three words: Hell yes, Magneto!

You remember Magneto from the X-Men movies, right? Metal-bending mutant dude who believes that mutants are an evolutionary leap forward, and that the rest of humanity is pretty much chattel? Turns out that's a pretty appealing philosophy when you're a miserable teenager with an abusive father. And never mind your cousin's niggling insistence on rules.

Chronicle gets a number of things right: it gets the banter of our three teenage dudes, their giddiness in the face of their new and wondrous powers, and the way their insecurities continue to operate in spite of those powers. It gets how kids will lash out at those they love. And it gets adolescent myopia, and the desperation it creates. Most of all, it gets the danger involved in actually being able to project your tortured inner life all over the outside world.

Reader rating: Two stars

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