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Review: Chronicle

Andrew (Dan DeHaan) is an outcast. He keeps to himself at school, takes care of his cancer-stricken mother at home and generally seeks to avoid the wrath of his abusive father. His cousin, Matt (Alex Russell), is much more outgoing and happy with his lot in life. Venturing even further away from Andrew's social circles is Steve (Michael B. Jordan). Steve lives the dream that all high schoolers wish for: popular guy, class president, letterman athlete.

Matt is pretty good buds with Steve and after much convincing, he gets Andrew to come along to one of Steve's house parties. Matt's attempt to bring Andrew out of his shell doesn't go as planned, Andrew spends his time recording the partygoers. The camera was originally intended to prevent his father from beating him so often, turned into a device to allow him to create distance from others. Understandably, the other people at the party wonder if they will end up in a recreation of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.

He is pulled out of his exercise in self-awareness when Steve rushes up, he and Matt have found something incredible. They come across a site that looks like a meteor crash. A long, dark tunnel leads them to a glowing source of power which knocks them unconscious.

Cut to black.

The next day, the three have telekinetic powers that grow with each passing day. Like any teenagers they immediately resort to screwing around in malls, parking lots and convenience stores. People criticize Spider-man films for always referring to the Uncle Ben speech, but it would have done Andrew, Matt and Steve some good. As the three bond over harmless shenanigans, Andrew's powers prove to be stronger than Matt and Steve. As Andrew has trouble drawing lines with when to use them Chronicle becomes much darker, Taxi Driver dark.

Found footage films have become a considerable big draw in Hollywood, but very few have kept true to the rules of the Dogme 95. The handheld camera may make it easier to identify with teens in a story about superpowers, but the film could have been just as successful without resorting to that technique.

The concept of Chronicle as presented by the promotional spots - super-powered teenagers pulling pranks on an unsuspecting public - does the finished product a disservice. Much more is going on for the film, including a solid performances from Dane DeHaan. The shock of the tonal shift is jarring, but it lends the film gravitas.

***/****

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