Chronicle Josh Trank

Chronicle Josh Trank
Stories of emerging superpowers often consider the evolution of the human species. Chronicle is no exception, and it's fitting that rookie director Josh Trank extends this theme to his shooting style, using organic story elements to evolve beyond the limitations of faux-found-footage filmmaking. The script (co-written by Trank and Max Landis) smartly functions as a heart-wrenching depiction of the sometimes-irreparable damage of physical and psychological abuse, and the value of the surrogate familial bonds of friendship first and foremost while an exhilarating superhero origin story gradually unfolds around the budding relationships. To act as a shield, or failing that, document his step-father's alcoholic rages, Andrew (Dane DeHaan), a withdrawn social outcast caring for his sick mother, buys a pretty spiffy video camera and begins filming everything, finding the lens to be equally useful in creating a buffer between him and the taunts of fellow students. Dragged to a house party by his well-meaning cousin, Matt (Alex Russell), Andrew gets roped into filming a strange pit in the woods by charismatic class president hopeful Steve (Michael B. Jordan, Friday Night Lights). Boys being crazy, drunken boys and Andrew not wanting to prematurely sever this situational display of camaraderie, they investigate. After some effectively vague and distorted footage of… something, the camera switches back on an unspecified length of time later and the trio of teens are displaying some curious new abilities. Rather than swiftly getting into some sort of "with great power comes great responsibility" situation, the new bosom buddies do what any teenagers would do: have fun. Dane DeHaan and Michael B. Jordan are engaging young actors, and upon second viewing, Alex Russell's void of personality is kind of the point of Matt; he's like social Silly Putty. The frequently leavening chemistry between the three leads feels natural, helping ground the picture in likable, relatable character relationships while the action and emotional stakes steadily grow towards a grave and chaotic climax. There was the potential for an even darker ending, and while that would have provided an edgier, more atypical sort of satisfaction, the story is neatly wrapped up in a way that will still challenge more traditionally minded audiences. The DVD only comes with brief features on "Pre-Viz," detailing the more complex action sequences, and a camera test involving younger stand-ins running unpolished dialogue. Hopefully the Blu-Ray reveals some of the tricks behind the inventive and dynamic telekinesis camerawork that makes Chronicle a stunning visual experience directly reflective of the controller's mental state. It's these sorts of thoughtful flourishes that mark Josh Trank as a serious talent to keep an eye on and make Chronicle one of the year's standout pictures. (Fox)