Monday, May 28, 2012

Chronicle DVD Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Take an extraordinary journey with three teens who uncover a power greater than anything they’ve ever imagined, leading to their developing uncanny telekinetic powers beyond their understanding. As they learn to control their abilities and use them to their advantage, their lives start to spin out of control as their darker sides begin to take over. What starts out as fun and games quickly becomes dangerous and they must face the inevitable question of whether they can handle the responsibility that comes with their remarkable powers.  Up-and-coming actors Dane DeHaan (“True Blood”), Alex Russell (Almost Kings) and Michael B. Jordan (“Friday Night Lights”) star alongside Michael Kelly (The Adjustment Bureau). 

Film (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)

High school student Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan) has a pretty crappy life. His father is an abusive drunk, his mother is dying slowly at home, and Andrew is unpopular at school. He decides to start videotaping his life. This doesn’t make his father happy at home and doesn’t increase his popularity at school. Andrew’s cousin Matt (Alex Russell) attends the same school and is Andrew’s only friend. Matt tries to help Andrew not be such a dork, and even takes him to a rave. Andrew films the rave, angering some of the attendees. 

Upset, he heads outside where the ultra popular Steve (Michael B. Jordan) approaches him. Steve says that he and Matt have found something cool and they want to film it.  That something cool, is a hole in the ground. After inspecting the exterior, the boys head inside. The hole contains crystals and glowing lights and strange sounds. As the boys get closer they are struck with pain and nosebleeds. Soon, the three boys realize they have telekinetic abilities and Andrew films it all.

Their abilities are weak at first and must be worked out like a muscle. The three boys bond while working on growing their powers. As they start to get stronger they pull pranks on other people like moving their cars from one space to another in a mall parking lot. An unlucky tailgater is forced off the road when Andrew tries to mess with him. After that Matt insists they have some ground rules – most importantly the agreement not to use their powers on living creatures.

The new powers don’t just allow the boys to move things with their mind. They soon learn that they can fly and in no time are soaring in the clouds. Andrew wants to fly to Tibet and the others agree to do that with him after they graduate.  To assist Andrew in becoming more popular, Matt convinces him to be in the school talent show. The other students are amazed with their “magic” act and Andrew suddenly is accepted by his peers. At a party, he even gets a girl but ends up embarrassing himself by vomiting on her.

Andrew becomes increasingly withdrawn and he begins to use his powers in very negative ways. First he pulls teeth from the mouth of a bully at school and soon he declares himself an ape predator. Forced into action, Matt is left with little choice but to use the full extent of his powers to try to save himself and the people of Seattle from his very angry and powerful cousin.

Throughout Chronicle, I failed to care much about the three main characters. The moral of this story is watch out world if a bullied kid ever gets any real power. On the plus side, the visual effects were better than I expected. Whether they were flying, crushing cars or messing with people, the powers are depicted well. I also found the story to be lacking, and I think a different group of actors might have strengthened the movie. Whatever the reason, I just know that I looked at my watch too many times wondering if it was almost over.

Video (2 out of 5 stars)

The film is basically footage that Andrew was supposed to have shot, so I am assuming the poor video quality was intentional. The movie's visual palette is dark, with dark blues and lots of grey so it keeps things deliberately murky as well.  The clarity is still decent on this DVD but I'm sure the Blu-ray looks even better.    All I have to go on is this promotional DVD so the final version may look different.  In any case, I didn't notice any blemishes or digital defects and the black level was pretty solid.

Audio (2 out of 5 stars)

Again, I can only speak to the DVD but nothing about the sound impressed me. The dialogue was consistent and clear but there wasn't as much directionality as I would have liked. The rear speakers weren't utilized as much as I think they should have been, since I would have at least liked to hear the boys buzz by me as they flew across the screen. The music and sound effects sound pretty good though.

Special Features (1 1/2 out of 5 stars) 

This promotional DVD's extras are very limited in both quantity and quality and may not reflect that final version that's been released in stores.

  • Pre-viz – Crude animations of some of the main sequences before the computer generated images were done.
  • Camera test – Other actors playing the roles of Matt, Andrew and Steve.
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Sneak Peak
  • Chronicle Sound Track Info

Final Thoughts (2 out of 5 stars)

Chronicle was a letdown for me as I was really hoping that it would be better than it turned out to be. It started off looking interesting and was entertaining me, but as the film progressed I never got emotionally invested in any of the three main characters and ended up not caring who lived or died.  I've heard a lot of other people have enjoyed the movie but it just wasn't for me.

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