The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 84/89 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English/Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan, Dane DeHaan, Michael Kelly, Ashley Hinshaw
Directed by: Josh Trank
Written by: Max Landis
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: May 15, 2012
"What are you capable of?"
Seen through the lens of a troubled teen's video camera, yet filled with eye-popping action and jaw-dropping special effects, Chronicle is as real as it gets. When three ordinary high school friends make an extraordinary discovery, they acquire amazing abilities beyond their understanding. Fun, harmless pranks soon lead to much riskier activities as the boys' "gifts" - and their lives - spin dangerously out of control!
Three high school students make an unusual and outwardly non-earth like discovery, leading to their developing uncanny telekinetic powers which seem to evolve and link them. As they learn to control their abilities and use them to their advantage, their lives start to spin out of control. What starts out as fun and games quickly becomes dangerous and they must face the inevitable question of whether they can handle the responsibility that comes with their remarkable powers.
Chronicle isn't deep, prophetic or necessarily preachy. It is at its center a buddy flick about three very different teen boys whose lives are dramatically changed by their exposure to an unknown object that gives them telekinetic powers. As they experiment with their new found gifts they discover what appears to be near limitless capabilities. Andrew is a loner whose only friend is his cousin Matt. Andrew's home life is difficult thanks to an abusive alcoholic father and a cancer stricken mother. On top of that he is bullied in school and has taken to recording the events in his life on a camcorder. Matt is level headed, has no trouble fitting in at school and has aspirations that include dating Ashley, a long time crush. Steve is mister popular, running for senior class president and is on the fast track to success.
The story primarily focuses on Andrew and how after the exposure/discovery of their powers, it affects his already fragile psyche. Matt and Steve being more grounded are much less adversely affected by the inherent dangers of such power. What starts out as three guys having fun with something that they don't truly understand quickly unravels and descends into life altering events with consequences that cannot be undone. As I alluded to earlier the plot isn't deep but a connection to the characters is quickly established. The vagueness of the what/why relative to the object isn't a problem as the narrative's real target is the depiction of who, in this case, the three boys and how it comes to drawn them together and ultimately tear them apart. The saying, with great power comes great responsibility, is apropos. Unfortunately Andrew's perspective is skewed by hard times that don't allow him to disconnect. This sets him up as a ticking time bomb with the potential for some serious payback.
Told in the found footage video style, Chronicle's base level story has enriching elements of teen drama, action, and sci-fi/fantasy, which results in a pretty entertaining film. I like the fact that part of the story is steeped in empathetic harsh reality while other aspects of it descend into the kind of fun, mindless fantasy that you would expect based upon the subject material. The final act pushes things toward the edge a bit but not to a deleterious point. Action/sci-fi notwithstanding this is more or less a character driven film that pulled me in. This is owed in part to the fine performances by the cast, especially Dane Dehaan whose credible portrayal of Andrew anchors the rest. Chronicle isn't going to win any cinematic awards but its thoughtful, semi-original and engaging spin makes for a great way to spend 90 minutes. This Blu-ray release from Fox includes both the theatrical and director's cut (the version I watched during my evaluation) which adds five minutes to the original's runtime.
The rating is for intense action and violence, thematic material, some language, brief sexual content and teen drinking.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Chronicle comes to Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 26 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.7 Mbps.
The early segments of the film as seen through Andrew's crappy SD video camera are purposefully soft but shortly thereafter he upgrades to a newer HD model at which time the image takes on much improved dimension. The result is a solid video presentation that offers discerning resolution and appreciable delineation during close up and mid level camera pans. The video isn't razor sharp but has an enriching quality. The color range sets the mood with either a purposely reserved palette or bolder chromatic emphasis. Rendering is clean and depth is appropriate. Fleshtones keep pace with the look of the rest of the film and have a balmy but natural texture. Spot on contrast yield crisp, bright whites and blacks are fairly deep and noise free. This is a pristine encoding that shows no obvious signs of video related artifacts or anomalies.
The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio surround mix does a nice job rendering the film's soundtrack. Dialogue has excellent intonation and clarity which allows even subtle changes in vocal pitch to be appreciable. This is a well balanced audio presentation that quite often engages the entire system. Dynamic range is excellent and the soundstage has an open expression that allows its elements to extend well into the room. Discrete rear channel activity isn't extensive however the action based elements provide an enriching level of immersion. The first flight and later the storm and extended fight sequences are empowered by near field sound effects, robust dynamics and thumping low frequency effects that energize the room. The LFE channel is frequently active and reproduces the film's music and extended lower bass frequencies with palpable impact that has excellent tactility.
- Theatrical and Director's Cut of the film
- (HD) Deleted scene
- Pre-visualization - 7 minutes
- (HD) Camera test - 4 minutes
- (HD) Theatrical trailer
- Bonus DVD
- Digital Copy
Chronicle isn't deep or lofty filmmaking but engages via a thoughtful, semi-original narrative spin that despite a few minor shortcomings proves pretty entertaining. It makes its way onto Blu-ray Disc in this two disc release from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment that offers excellent high definition audio/video quality, includes two versions of the film and a disappointing supplemental package. Chronicle has something to offer and is well worth your time. Give it a spin on Blu-ray.
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