DVD Review: Chronicle

Director: Josh Trank
Writers: Max Landis, Josh Trank
Stars: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
MPAA: Rated R

Synopsis: Three young men explore a mysterious cavern and gain super human powers. When exploring these powers they learn the responsibilities that come with them and the danger of their powers.

The film starts by establishing the need for the video camera that CHRONICLES (I used the title!) their lives. Andrew (DeHaan) is a very secluded teen who uses a video camera as a means of shielding himself from individuals who may physically or verbally abuse him. His only means of social interaction is through his cousin Matt (Russell) who has a more laid back personality. Matt takes Andrew to a party where Steve (Jordan) is introduced as a high school socialite and the discoverer of the mysterious crater in the woods. Wanting to CHRONICLE (Did it again!) their exploration of the crater, Steve asks Andrew to bring his camera to film the mysteries of what’s inside and this is where the inception of their powers begins.

The "mysterious" cavern

From the inception of their powers, the film progresses in a phased approach. They start by chroniclingfilming themselves learning to use their powers while also playing practical jokes on others. The idea of this film was to give super powers a real world perspective and the initial learning phase brought reality to the film. Seeing how these characters learned to use the powers and what they did with them makes it very easy to fit yourself into the role of a super powered individual. The inclusion of practical jokes strengthened the reality factor even more because the mischievous fun of having powers is something that is rarely explored in super hero type films. My favorite scene of this film was the coverage of when they learn to fly. The camera shots on the flight sequence really bring the audience into the film by providing first person perspective and adding the “shaky cam” effect.

The one thing that I liked about this film at first but then progressively started to dislike was the explanation for filming. I thought it was effective to initially establish the reason for the characters documenting themselves but that reason quickly became redundant. Whenever the scene would change someone would explain their reason for filming at that particular moment and it seemed very out of place and awkward. It made it that much harder to get into the film when the dialogue would stop while the character explained their reason for capturing something on video.

With great power comes...devastation!

The abrupt halt of dialogue actually hurt character development in my opinion. I liked the idea of putting three people of different high school status in the film but I was left wanting to know more. The characters came from all areas of social cliques. There was Steve coming from the popular crowd, Andrew who was an outcast, and Matt who was middle of the road. From the way this film was shot, the characters were perfectly set up so that the audience could find a character to identify with and visualize themselves in their shoes. The problem was their was not much said about who these characters were. I understand that the film’s focus is their superhuman abilities but every comic book fan knows that a super hero is nothing without a back story…no matter what their powers may be. I loved the scenes of exploring and using their abilities but how they chose to use those abilities came with little explanation due to the fact that there is such a short and speedy explanation of who these characters were.


Although most of the cast portrayed their characters decently, I thought the final scene involving DeHaan’s character Andrew was a little over the top. His villainous screams and rants did not fit into the reality aspect of this film. I could not tell if it was bad dialogue, bad acting, or a combination of both. I was reminded of repeated lines given from a cheesy video game boss and it was almost humorous to hear. In my best guess I would credit this to bad dialogue and the fast transition of Andrew’s journey from good to evil.

DVD Extras:

I enjoyed the extras on the DVD but I found them to be minimal compared to the plethora of bonus features available on DVDs lately. The two main items on the bonus features were the computer animation sequences and what looked to be an audition with an alternate cast. The computer animation sequences were interesting, seeing the animation acted out with voice overs. The scenes that were covered were the flight scenes and the action scenes at the end. It wasn’t something as visually impressive as a sci-fi blockbuster but it was very cool to see how a basic polygonal figure is transformed into the actors we see on the screen.

The alternate cast scenes were fun to watch but I was confused as to what they were. It was obviously an alternate cast but there was no explanation as to what these scenes were. I would have rather seen some alternate scenes with the actual cast.


I was very critical going into this film because it’s very easy to make a bad superhero film because you have to fall somewhere in the middle of reality and comic book fantasy. This film was a different take on this genre and the movie is worth a watch just for that. There were a lot of familiar comic book themes that come into play such as their responsibilities of having these powers and how easily power can manipulate one’s nature. I think the greatest strength and also the greatest weakness was that reality element. I noticed times where the film would shift gears from documentary style filming to actual filming and it caused me to lose focus. There were also many plot holes left unanswered and that may be intentional so they could address things in a sequel. The film was fun and interesting but its weaknesses were prominent.

6/10 – Rent It

The movie is worth a watch but was lacking some key elements…


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About Ryan

First and foremost, Ryan Brown is a fan. He has been an avid fan of both the theater and cinema since an early age and his passion for both has been continually growing ever since. When dissecting a film, he focuses on all elements of film-making including some fan/cult factors. He believes that character development is the foundation of a good film and usually starts his analysis of a film from there moving forward. His writing style may be influenced by his background of narrative and argumentative studies in the subject, but he tends to enjoy a more conversational style to better interact with the readers, unlike some other pretentious and pompous writers.

4 thoughts on “DVD Review: Chronicle

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