With so many movies relying so much on special effects, it’s understandable that you may be getting a little jaded by the technology. Watching Transformers: Dark of the Moon, for example, sure– you might have been a little wowed by the utter destruction of downtown Chicago, but it’s doubtful you ever thought to yourself, “Wow, that almost looks real. I wonder how they did that.”

Chronicle, though, might very well leave you a bit amazed… wondering how first-time (and now force-to-be-reckoned-with) director Josh Trank makes teenagers fly and crush cars with their thoughts.

And while telekinesis isn’t a new idea (Carrie, Push, and a little film called Star Wars relied pretty heavily on a person’s magical power to move stuff with his/her mind), but it’s never been presented quite like it is with Chronicle.

When a trio of high school buddies in suburban Seattle trip on a mysterious hole in the ground, they decide to investigate, with bullied loser Andrew (Dane DeHaan) video-recording the whole thing for posterity. Inside the hole, the three find a weird, glowy, alien-ish…um, thing that gives them all bloody noses and, as it turns out, telekinetic powers.

At first the kids experiment innocently by stacking Legos and moving shopping carts, but Andrew’s cousin Matt (Alex Russell) realizes that the more they exercise their power, the stronger they get, and before long, Steve (Michael B. Jordan) realizes they can fly. (The scene where the three guys toss a football at 10,000 feet is particularly mind-bending.)

Since we all know absolute power corrupts absolutely, Andrew’s dark side starts creeping in (along with being bullied, he’s coping with a dying mother and an abusive, alcoholic father), and instead of using his powers for good, he starts seeing it as the perfect opportunity to start some mayhem. Catastrophes ensue.

Trank jumps into the business of big-screen movies in a huge way– I imagine more than one ‘most promising newcomer’ awards may be headed his way soon. What could have ended up as another found-footage bit of throw-away idiocy surprisingly comes out the other side as an inventive, entertaining, and wholly-captivating movie.

The visual effects are incredible from start to finish (particularly finish), and Trank also gets winning performances from the relatively unknown cast. Working from a story he co-wrote with Max Landis (yes, son of John), he’s put together a memorable bit of high-tension sci-fi fun.

Yes, the found-footage bandwagon will keep on rolling, but Chronicle definitively shows that there are at least a few people who aren’t content with just going along for the ride; they want to steer it away in an entirely fresh new direction.


4/5 stars