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

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 22 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 63 reviews

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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

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.


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.


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).


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


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
Adult Written byShortswald March 2, 2012

Great example of puberty

The film deals with three teens whom get super-powers. One of the characters has a tough life and looses control when her mother dies. The film is in a point of... Continue reading
Adult Written byamerehuman95 January 19, 2020

Well made but/ Emotionally Draining

This film is rated 13 and up, those I feel 13 is lenient due to some of the themes and content (not to be a stick in the mud) not so much due to the sexual innu... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bythet33nr4ter January 8, 2022

Parents and teens who want to watch this movie should read this

I recently watched this, and to be honest, it was much darker than I thought. It really shows the consequences to the actions that the characters do, it shows t... 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

Our editors recommend

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Themes & Topics

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