Spiderman (aka Peter Parker) was once told, ‘With great power comes great responsibility’.  Yeah right, Peter, have you even got a girlfriend?  No, the reality is that if you woke up tomorrow with superpowers of any kind, you’d go out and have an awesome time playing around with them.

Which is pretty much what happens to three friends when they discovered that they’ve developed superpowers in Chronicle.  After a lot of persuasion, Matt convinced his cousin Andrew to go to a rave at a disused building out of town.  Andrew has recently bought a camera, and has started filming everything around him.  Sitting outside later on, Andrew is approached by Steve, who asks him to come with him and film something he and Matt have discovered nearby.

Andrew reluctantly follows Steve and Matt into a hole they’ve found, where they discover a strange looking object that seems to react to their presence.  After this, they realise that they have developed telekinetic powers, and even learn how to fly.  They wisely choose to totally ignore Peter Parker’s mantra, instead having a great time messing about with their new abilities.  So they build Lego without touching it, and move cars from one parking space to another and generally have a great time showing off to each other.

But Andrew’s home life is difficult, with an abusive, drunk father, and a terminally ill mother.  While Steve and Matt enjoy a carefree attitude towards their powers, Andrew feels differently about them, and is keen to explore just how far he can push himself.

Chronicle is filmed for the most part from Andrew’s point of view.  At the beginning of the film, he carries his camera around with him, but later he discovers he can move the camera without touching it, allowing the director, Josh Trank, to come up with more elaborate shots and camera moves than might normally be the case for movies in the ‘found-footage’ genre.  Although there seems to have been too many of these kinds of movies since The Blair Witch Project became such a phenomenon, Chronicle has a fresh take on it, thanks to the well written script by Matt ‘son of John’ Landis.  It has always seemed that most ‘found footage’ movies were designed purely for scares, so monsters or beasts will suddenly flash across the camera or knock it out of the hands of whoever is holding it.  But Chronicle is different, and for the most part works fine. Without spoiling anything, what happens towards the end of the movie somewhat requires the suspension of belief when it comes to the 21st century idea of everything being filmed by everyone all the time.  But it’s a minor criticism of an otherwise almost flawless movie.

The young cast (Dane DeHaan as Andrew, Michael B. Jordan as Steve and Alex Russell as Matt) are excellent, with DeHaan in particular giving a superb performance as the troubled Andrew.  I really enjoyed it, and I think it’s one of the best films about people with superpowers (who aren’t necessarily superheroes) that has been made in a long time.  With great power comes great responsibility?  You can stick it Spiderman!

David Dougan

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