MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Photo By Century Fox
Directed by Josh Trank. Starring Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell.
When Peter Parker became Spiderman, his Uncle Ben had the wisdom to remind him that “with great power comes great responsibility”. Chronicle tells the story of three high school kids who also stumble upon great power but act like regular immature kids. And that means trouble.
And, in this movie, the youth literally stumble into power, falling into a mysterious hole in the ground, where they touch a strange crystal and discover that they have gained telekinetic powers far beyond imagination. How the hole got there is never explained, although the government eventually closes the area off to the general public. By that time, the damage is done.
The three boys are somewhat stereotypical: Andrew (DeHaan), the quiet outsider living with an abusive alcoholic dad (Michael Kelly) and a mother who is struggling with advanced cancer (Bo Petersen); Matt (Russell), Andrew’s intelligent preppy cousin; and Steve (Michael B. Jordan), the popular student leader. Chronicle gives us a chance to see how the same special power is played out by these different personality types. The film is honest enough about adolescence to involve peer pressure and popularity as influences on the boys’ behavior.
There is much in Chronicle that is viewed from the perspective of characters recording the events as they happen (similar to The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, and The Devil Inside), a genre that is now known as “found footage”. Fortunately, Chronicle takes some liberties with this approach, occasionally allowing us to be freed from the camcorders to view the events as in a typical film.
Chronicle is an entertaining and thought-provoking film for older youth and adults, made by young filmmakers who are able to create impressive special effects from a relatively modest ($12 million) budget. The young actors are good and the story is full of surprises.
The use and abuse of power is a primary theme in scripture. The original sin of humanity is the desire to be like God, and Jesus allowed himself to be nailed to the cross as a way to confront all worldly power with the alternative and greater power of sacrificial love.
All of us are given spiritual gifts that are to be used for the benefit of Christ’s church and God’s kingdom. But, for most of us, discerning our gifts and using them responsibly can be a lifelong project. Chronicle is a cautionary tale for all of us.
Three halos: A thoughtful science fiction fantasy that reminds us that the acquisition of great power doesn’t always produce heroes, especially when you are talking about teenage boys.
Three pitchforks: Violence; alcohol overconsumption; some swearing; sex talk and a scene of implied sexual activity that I wouldn’t want to have to explain to a middleschooler – in other words, don’t believe the PG-13 rating on this one.
Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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