Chronicle is a mesmerizing display of teen angst unleashed

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Starring Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, and Michael B. Jordan. Rated 14A.

Man, it would be nice to be in the shoes of Chronicle director Josh Trank and screenwriter Michael Landis right now. The two 26-year-olds have the movie world by the balls because their new “found-footage” sci-fi thriller has blockbuster written all over it.

The film wastes no time getting you involved. It opens with pasty teenager Andrew (Dane DeHaan) switching on a video camera and aiming it at his mirror-covered bedroom door, then warning the angry male pounding on its other side that he’s on tape. We soon learn that not only is the poor kid living with a violent dickhead dad but also a loving mom who’s dying a slow, painful death from cancer. Couple that with the fact that he’s a shy, sensitive loner who’s bullied wherever he goes—partly because he won’t stop filming everything—and you’ve got the makings for some serious Carrie-style drama.

One day while hanging outside at a huge party Andrew’s cousin Matt (Alex Russell) and Matt’s pal Steve (Michael B. Jordan) stumble upon a strange hole in the ground and recruit him to document its impromptu exploration. The trio discovers a weird, crystalline object down there that embues them with superpowers and instantly bonds them as tight friends and confidantes.

At first the guys are content using their newfound telekinetic abilities to lift Lego pieces and skip stones on a pond, but as they learn to work the power like a muscle they move on to more serious applications--like forcing redneck-owned SUVs over embankments. Things get really intense when Steve figures out how to levitate his own body, leading to a cosmic game of catch up in the clouds.

The visual effects in Chronicle are astounding, especially considering its $15-million budget, but it’s the well-drawn characters and convincing performances—particularly DeHaan’s portrayal of Andrew’s angst-ridden journey to the dark side—that keep it so wildly entertaining. Not even the obvious overkill of the climactic, superhero-type showdown is enough to tarnish its winning vibe.

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