Chronicle

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Chronicle Movie Poster Image
Teens get super powers in relatable but violent thriller.
  • PG-13
  • 2012
  • 84 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 24 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 61 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Three teens form a strong friendship that clearly makes a difference in their lives, though they don't always treat each other perfectly. The movie also suggests that when you're given a special talent or gift, it's important to treasure it and use it wisely; the story serves as a warning against the potentially corrupting influence of immense power.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Matt and Steve are clearly responsible, sensible teens who care for others, and even the troubled Andrew starts out as someone who's trying hard not to emulate his abusive father. That said, he struggles with this challenge.

Violence

Plentiful and sometimes quite brutal. Andrew's father hits him (with his fists) at the slightest provocation; he also says very hateful things that demean and hurt Andrew. When the three teens use their new powers, there's plenty mayhem (people are tossed and battered, cars are thrown, buildings explode) and destruction (blasts, explosions, etc.). Some scenes linger on the bloody aftermath of fights, and some characters die because of these face-offs. A teen is bullied at his high school; his camera is yanked away and tossed to the ground. A classmate tries to strangle him. Later, he gets his revenge.

Sex

Teen couples kiss; one scene shows a bungled sexual encounter. No outright nudity, but major hints at what has taken place. A teen boy is shown pulling up his pants and buckling his belt. Discussions about virginity (having lost it already, wanting to lose it).

Language

Pretty frequent use of words including "s--t," "ass," "a--hole," "crap," "prick," "damn," "hell," "goddamn," "p---y," "oh my God," and more.

Consumerism

Labels/brands include Canon cameras, Pepsi cans, and Centrum vitamins.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teen drinking at parties (they hold tell-tale red cups in their hands); some drink to inebriation.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Chronicle is an action thriller about three teens who happen upon a strange discovery and, soon after, develop telekinesis and other powers. There's plenty of over-the-top violence (including deaths, the bloody aftermath of fights, explosions, and other mayhem), and the movie also deals with heavy themes -- chronic illness, abuse, rage, family dysfunction, financial distress, and more -- which makes it too intense for younger viewers. Still, it's surprisingly heartfelt, and it captures well the dynamics of teenage male friendships (especially the way they talk). Some scenes portray underage drinking (to the point of drunkenness), and there's also swearing, sexual innuendo, and implied sexual encounters.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written bymervson February 8, 2012

Most Depressing Movie I have ever Paid to see.

I love movies and I love Super hero / super power related movies. This movie left me with an unpleasant feeling which did not encourage me to want to watch it... Continue reading
Parent of a 9 and 12 year old Written byredharmony February 18, 2012

HOLY COW :(

Holy Cow. Husband decided this would be a great movie for the kids...based on the recommendation of the 20 year old at the theatre??? (our kids are 8 and 11...... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byThe Review Guy February 24, 2012

Sci-fi Mockumentary is Exciting,fast,and Violent

Parents need to know that CHRONICLE is fast,exciting and heartfelt.It's also very violent and sometimes disturbing.The main character is physically abused... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byDylanRTwinHills April 27, 2015

Dark, Gritty, Intense, and Depressing

Chronicle is a suprisingly good movie with action and well done special effects, but it is also a major downer. There aren't any real role models here, exc... Continue reading

What's the story?

Andrew (Dane Dehaan) is lost and in pain. His beloved mother is bedridden, wasting away with disease, her meds so expensive they can barely afford them. His unemployed father can't contain his anger and frustrations, preferring instead to use them as weapons against his son. Andrew's cousin, Matt (Alex Russell), is a help, but they're not that close. And hardly anyone at his school wants to be his friend; they're too busy making fun of him and his penchant for filming his daily life. Then, one day, Andrew, Matt, and their popular classmate, Steve (Michael B. Jordan), discover a hole in the ground that's vibrating with energy. Inside the cave to which it leads is an unexplained energy source that, after they encounter it, suffuses them with powers they could have only dreamed of: They can move objects, they can withstand heavy blows, and they can fly. At first, they use their talents for fun and games ... until the pressures of real life intervene, and one of them snaps.

Is it any good?

Arguably, CHRONICLE's biggest triumph is how it authentically captures the nature of teenage male friendships -- their give and take, what makes them tick. This is what really makes the first half of this fascinating movie, which is part of the same "found-footage" genre as The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, succeed (though that conceit seems unnecessarily gimmicky in this case). Watching the three stars is like getting invited into their fraternity. All three actors share a believable rapport; what motivates and intrigues them is what we imagine fascinates high school seniors on the brink of great change in their lives.

The main storyline is also a good hook: What would happen if random teenagers were suddenly equipped with superhero/comic book abilities? It makes so much sense that they'd waste it on a parking lot prank (a hilarious scene), or by tossing a football at warp speed among the clouds. And it also makes so much sense that things would go awry in a hurry. (To quote another superhero: With great power comes great responsibility.) Can teenagers really be expected to act responsibly, especially when they're sitting on a tinderbox of rage? Sadly, it's when this tinderbox ignites that the film loses its focus. Chronicle's last third feels like a rush to tie up loose ends, with a moral lesson to boot. The movie poses an interesting question, but the answer it comes up with is half-baked.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's violence. How does it compare to what you've seen in other movies about people with super powers? Is all of it necessary to the story?

  • Why are teenagers so cruel to each other sometimes? Parents, talk to your teens about handling bullying in real life.

  • What is Chronicle trying to say about male friendships? What about how strength can be used (or misused)?

  • Why do you think Andrew responds to the development of his powers differently from Steve and Matt? How do the unfolding events at home shape his reactions and decisions?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love superheroes

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate