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Taking the found footage genre directly on the nose, Chronicle sees it's trio of young leads documenting the development of their new found telekinetic powers. Marrying generic high school dramedy and high priced special effects with our ever growing need to document our own lives, Josh Trank's directorial debut floats over well worn territory while bringing to life every comic book nerd's biggest dream. Learning how to control super human powers is every bit as fun to watch as one could hope, but when the story is so dependent on banal relationship mechanics, the film fails to fly as its supernatural teens seem to do with disciplined ease.
After descending into a glowing underground cavern found in the fields bordering a late night house party, Andrew (Dane DeHaan), Matt (Alex Russell), and Steve (Michael B. Jordan) wake the following morning to find that, with some practice, they can now move objects with their minds. Prior to this night, the teens were hardly friends, Andrew being the weird reclusive cousin of the over philosophic Matt, and Steve, with his effortless charm paving the way to universal popularity and hopefully a class presidency, but with this new turn of events, they spend nearly all of their free time experimenting in confluence, on hand in case emergency or miracle should occur. And occur they do.
The kids soon find that they can make themselves levitate, and shortly see themselves confidently, if not ignorantly, among the clouds. When experimentation goes a bit too far, they make an agreement not to use their powers on other living beings, and certainly not out in public, but this rule is quickly forgotten as opportunities arise, and desperation sets in. You see, Andrew's mother is in need of unreasonably expensive medicines to thwart a life threatening illness, and his father is an unemployed abusive drunk, not unjustly suspicious of his evasive son. When Andrew decides to use his new abilities to solve both of these issues in one fell swoop, things get real for the teens, and quite unreal for everyone else.
Often times found footage films stay within the style of low end tech as source material, but Matthew Jensen's fitting cinematography is crystal clear in Fox's Blu-ray transfer, looking quite high end indeed. Overall, the film has a very naturalistic look, and colors follow suit, never being exaggerated or muted, but still very much alive. Even the abundant special effects generally look very impressive, maybe not top shelf, but certainly B+ quality. The lossless DTS-HD 5.1 track treads similar waters, pushing clear, and well placed audio throughout the soundscape. The film is presented in both it's original theatrical cut, as well as a slightly longer director's cut. Included on the disc are a hand full of fairly forgettable extras. First, we have a single deleted scene, in which Matt and his love interest are making breakfast. The following clip is a series of special effects scenes prior to heavy manipulation, meaning that these are very rough 3D animations with overlaid temporary audio lines. Most interesting of the bonuses, is a collection of camera tests for the special effect scenes that take place at a diner. There is also a trailer for the film included. This is a Blu-ray, DVD and Digital combo pack release, and all the discs come packaged safely within a standard Blu-ray case, inside a nice glossy slipcover.
While there are plenty of both found footage and super power films out there, the combination of the two concepts makes for a surprisingly bland, yet highly entertaining night in the home theater. Josh Trank's first attempt to storm the nerd world has our attention, and if that wasn't enough, his next project is to adapt the PS2 video game epic Shadow of the Colossus for the big screen.
--Jordan M. Smith
Release Date: May 15th, 2012