What could be better than being young and having superpowers, if not having the same powers with your best friends, as happens in this 2012 movie, Chronicle?
It all starts with the unfortunate Andrew, a lonely and depressed boy from the hard life he must endure with an abusive and alcoholic father.
Fortunately for him, his cousin Matt brings him out of his shell of gloom by taking him to parties with all his friends.
During one of these parties, while they are outdoors sobering up, they also make to meet the cheerful and vivacious Steve, with whom they bond immediately.
Walking away into a field nearby, they discover a hole in the ground where a small meteorite has apparently crashed.
As they venture inside, they find strange luminescent rocks causing them great head pain, making them nosebleed to fainting.
The next day they reunite, not remembering how they got out of that place but making an extraordinary discovery: they can move objects with their thoughts.
Even more extraordinary, later, is learning to leverage their telepathic power in many ways other than just telekinesis.
Indeed, by concentrating, they can create an invisible field around their bodies that protect them from anything.
Or, again, they can use telekinesis on themselves to hover in the air, flying like Superman.
Initially, they have a great time using their powers around the city, recording everything on camera in an absurd diary.
When they unintentionally hurt a boy, everything changes, making a pact never to use their powers on people.
Andrew, however, is getting increasingly close to a mental breakdown because of his insufferable father, becoming progressively more unstable and dangerous.
At that point, the only ones who can stop him will be his superfriends; but the price to pay will be very high.
When style changes with the narrative
An exciting piece of cinema with which, as far as I’m concerned, he had largely made up for 2015’s lousy Fantastic Four, even worse than the 2005 disaster of the same name, which at least managed to be entertaining and fun intermittently.
Instead, about his 2012 debut movie, Chronicle has everything I most appreciate regarding a supernatural powers story.
First, there is a perfect setup with the description of the characters and the suburban environment where they live.
After we have a cool genesis in the sci-fi turn without wasting time on unnecessary pseudo-scientific explanations that no one gives a damn about.
Finally, as the best aspect, there is a fantastic metamorphosis of the protagonist Andrew Detmer from a weak coward into a fearsome and believable supervillain.
Trank excellently bring to the screen the solid script by Max Landis, son of the famous John Landis, a cult director for unforgettable masterpieces such as Animal House or The Blues Brothers.
The style choice also evolves dynamically within the narrative, moving from the classic amateur footage with a camera point of view to later becoming virtuosic and broad in its shots.
This happens because the boys, at some point, learn to move the camera with their minds; thus, the director abandons the first-person view for a more engaging and cinematic mood.
As my only criticism, I would say that the last Avengers-style devastation could have been more moderate, considering the intimate touch of the rest of the story.
However, I would be a liar if I said I did not have a great time even then, considering the extraordinary spectacle in this production of only $12 million.
Small budget superheroes
Besides being an excellent entertainment and sci-fi movie, Chronicle also boosted the careers of several promising young actors from 2012 onward.
I would start with Dane DeHaan, who has the most challenging role in the story: the problematic superhero Andrew Detmer, a character who, in truth, has nothing heroic about him.
Indeed, while the other friends in the group learn to deal with the immense power they suddenly find in their hands, Andrew becomes subjugated by it.
Thus we have a young man relentlessly bullied at school and home, which dramatically and believably shifts from a painful inferiority complex to a delusional desire for omnipotence and to manifest his superiority.
On the other hand, Alex Russell is his cousin and best friend, Matt Garetty, a bit stereotypical as the typical American good guy and whom I found really interesting only when he begins to clash with Andrew.
These first two actors, as I said, have had tremendous career growth getting to major movies like Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, where DeHaan was starring under the direction of the mighty Luc Besson.
However, among them, Michael B. Jordan is undoubtedly the one who got more success, becoming the famous Adonis Creed in the movie saga of the same name, where he picks up (for better or worse) the boxing and cinematic legacy of the old Rocky Balboa.
Playing the buddy Steve Montgomery here, he is a character who stands between the other two friends, becoming (unintentionally) the trigger that will lead to the last tragic act of the story.