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‘Chronicle’ breaks ‘found-footage’ mold

Article Published: Feb. 9, 2012 | Modified: Feb. 9, 2012
‘Chronicle’ breaks ‘found-footage’ mold

Dane DeHaan stars in ‘Chronicle.’

When it comes to most “found-footage” films, you can find more compelling footage on a public access channel.

Hell, at least they’re trying.

But with “Chronicle,” the latest sci-fi feature to employ the notorious handheld camera technique, director Josh Trank – in his first full-length feature – makes it work, and then some.

Fleshed-out characters, a compelling take on a familiar story and a surprisingly effective presentation make “Chronicle” soar above the rest, sometimes literally.

Put simply, it’s a superhero origin story for the Facebook generation. When three teenagers – social outcast Andrew (Dane DeHaan, HBO’s “True Blood”), cousin Matt (Alex Russell, “Almost Kings”) and popular Steve (Michael B. Jordan, TV’s “Friday Night Lights”) – discover an unearthly object underground, they’re granted the superhuman power of telekinesis, the ability to move objects with their minds.

And Andrew, who’s taken to filming everything as a way of coping with an abusive father and dying mother, has caught it all on tape. As their powers grow and strengthen, he’s there to chronicle it all, even when they learn to fly.

But as the gang becomes stronger, darker colors start to show, especially with Andrew, whose inability to improve his situation at home conflicts with his ability to, you know, do superhero things.

Trank realizes that less is more, never delving into what granted the teens their powers, but rather keeping the audience with our protagonists for the entirety of the ride. It’s one of the few instances where “found footage” works, and much of that is due to the plot device of Andrew using his powers to levitate the camera, achieving angles and vantage points that cinematic suppositories like “The Devil Inside” couldn’t logically achieve (as if that stinker even acknowledged logic as a five-letter word).

Unlike its unfortunate counterparts, “Chronicle” has fun with its storytelling. The scenes in which Andrew, Matt and Steve hone their powers, often involving practical jokes in toy stores and parking lots, show what a modern teen might do with such abilities, rather than taking the goody-two-shoes Clark Kent approach.

Trank strikes a balance between human and superhuman, but, at times, seems somewhat rushed.

The third act comes on rather fast, especially considering the film’s already short 84-minute runtime. Fortunately, he compensates with solid storytelling that takes the otherwise tiresome “found footage” subgenre to new heights.

“Chronicle,” rated PG-13 for intense action and violence, thematic material, some language, sexual content and teen drinking, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone. For show times, see page 15-B or visit

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