February 11, 2012 -- I had been ultra-busy with a film society movie series project, so it was a couple of weeks before I got around to seeing the hot new science fiction film, “Chronicle.” Nevertheless, the theater was packed with college-aged kids to see this dark tale of a superman gone bad.
I got to thinking that maybe the reason this film appeals to this particular generation is that it taps into the fear and anger felt by many people in these troubled times. One young woman described it best by saying “I did everything right. I got a college education and I worked hard,” but she ended up living with her parents who were themselves trying desperately to forestall foreclosure on their home. The fear, frustration and anger over the failure of the economic system in America to provide enough jobs is being expressed in such angry political movements as the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street.
This movie taps into the anger of current high schoolers and college students facing an uncertain future. It attempts to answer the question, what would happen if an angry person suddenly had the power to impose his will on everyone else? The answer is, things would get very bad very fast.
The movie's central character is Andrew Detmer (played by Dane DeHaan of the TV series “In Treatment”) a high school senior who is not with the “in crowd.” He has no friends. He is a loner who feels the need to document his life with a video camera (hence the name of the film). He is routinely beaten by his abusive father and by school thugs. There is a lot of anger in him, but he is too much of a wimp to get physical with anyone.
This all changes when Andrew, along with his philosophical cousin, Matt Garetty (Alex Russell) and popular classmate Steve Montgomery (Michael B. Jordan of “Red Tails”) stumble upon a strange life form living in crystals in a cave. Exposure to the crystals gives them the power of telekinesis, the ability to move themselves or other things with the power of their minds. As time passes, this power increases to incredible levels. They are able to fly through the air, to lift heavy objects, crush cars, and to change the direction of rapidly moving objects.
Matt tries to impose some rules on this power: Don't use it on living things. Don't use it when angry. Don't use it in public. Andrew eventually breaks all the rules. He sees himself as the next step in the evolution of man, an “apex predator” who feels free to use his power to do whatever he wants. When his dying mother is in desperate need of medication, Andrew goes on a crime spree. He doesn't think about using his power to win at roulette, or craps, or other games of chance where telekinesis would be handy. He uses his power to steal and to hurt others.
The darker aspects of the movie happen later, after the first playful phase of the teenagers exploring their new powers. The signs of trouble begin early, however. Near the end of the film, we see the full extent of the horrors caused by an angry person wielding great power. The film also shows how easy it is for a person to rationalize their abuses of power. This happens all the time in politics. In this film however, the most political character, Steve Montgomery, is not the one who causes all the problems. It is the philosopher, Matt Garetty, who is best able to adapt to this new power and use it to do good. This film rates a B.
Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.