Film & TV

Bromance Explodes in Sinister, Surprising, Seamlessly CGI-Enhanced Ways in "Chronicle"

Written by Max "Son of John" Landis, Chronicle playfully transcends its "Cloverfield meets Heroes" pitch. Brimming with passive anger over his mother's terminal illness and his father's drunken abuse, Seattle loner Andrew (Dane DeHaan) buys a cheap camcorder and records every banal whim with his cousin Matt (Alex Russell). Andrew brings his new tool of expression everywhere, including a barn rave that introduces perky blond video blogger Monica (Anna Wood) and her — or rather, the film's — second camera. Out in a valley behind the barn, Matt and unlikely new pal Steve (Michael B. Jordan), a handsome stud who's a shoo-in for class president, discover a peculiar hole in the ground and want to film it. "Have you ever heard of Plato's Allegory of the Cave?" Matt asks as the trio goes spelunking moments before the force of a pulsating, gleaming space crystal infects them with the ability of telekinesis. Unlike typical superhero-origin tales, there's a shrewd naturalism to this outlandish fantasy that befits these emotionally underdeveloped, horny, and otherwise average high schoolers. It's only when Andrew's hostility bubbles over with superhuman hubris that the bromance explodes in sinister, surprising, seamlessly CGI-enhanced ways. Chronicle's premise also provides a clever conceit to avoid ugly, handheld images: Andrew, perhaps ready for a Hollywood career, floats the camera around by the power of his imagination.

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Aaron Hillis is a regular film contributor at Voice Media Group and its film partner, the Village Voice. VMG publications include LA Weekly, Denver Westword, Phoenix New Times, Miami New Times, Broward-Palm Beach New Times, Houston Press and Dallas Observer.