Directed by: Josh Trank
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Chronicle is about Andrew (DeHaan), a teenager who’s having a really bad time in life. His mom has cancer and his dad is an alcoholic. At school he’s bullied and everyone thinks he’s a loser. The only person in his life is his much more popular cousin Matt (Russell). Andrew starts filming his entire life, using the camera as a buffer between him and the real world. One night at a party he’s dragged to, Andrew, Matt, and popular jock Steve (Jordan; Friday Night Lights) find something weird in a field that leaves them with telekinetic powers. Suddenly things start changing in all their lives.
I was excited for Chronicle. I’m a big fan of found footage/mocumentary type films and one about teenagers with superpowers seemed pretty great. But I was left disappointed. First thing is that this is probably the biggest example of a movie I can think of that should not have been found footage style. This story would have been just as, if not more, effective told through a traditional filming style. I would have loved to see a straightforward version of this movie. It seems like the team behind the movie even gets kind of sick of it, using the telekinesis to control the camera to allow them to get more traditional shots. And at the end they even kinda give up entirely with the gimmick, which is all it is here. It’s not a storytelling tool at all in this case.
But let’s go onto the rest of the movie. The performances weren’t bad. But they weren’t exceptional either. There was a bit of the unnaturalness of actors trying to act natural that you often find in movies like this, but only a minimum amount. The leads tried at least. The effects for the most part are really good with a few less than stellar ones thrown in.
The thing I disliked the most was the troubled kid stuff with Andrew being just over the top and very in your face and unsubtle. It was just like “oh not only is he bullied but now his dad’s an alcoholic stereotype and hey why not make his mom sick too?” It was just too much and it wasn’t executed very well. It would have been more interesting were Andrew just plain evil.
The film is engaging and has a lot of things that are decent. It’s not incredible though and I’ve seen a lot of people raving about Chronicle that I just don’t understand. It’s certainly a misuse of found footage and I can only think how much better this could have been. Overall though I’d say it’s a decent watch. Maybe wait for DVD though. It’s currently in theaters everywhere.