Gaining super powers is something we’ve all probably fantasized about at one time. Super strength, invulnerability, the power to fly...Chronicle attempts to explore that scenario as a found footage film with mixed results. The film presents three students, each from a different rung of the high school social classes system. Steve (Jordan) is the super popular, Class President candidate; Matt (Russell) is basically the middle of the road kid; and Matt’s cousin Andrew (DeHaan) is at the bottom, bullied both at school and at home by his alcoholic father. Andrew begins to videotape his entire life, however mundane, which only serves to bring more heat on him.
While attending a party, the three boys find a hole in a field and decide to explore. They find a strange glowing, crystalline object and then…well we have no idea which is one of the problems of Chronicle and its penchant for tossing in plot elements for convenience rather than making sense. All we know is weeks later Andrew is filming the trio as they are trying out their newfound telekinetic powers. At first, they use their powers for just pranks such as moving a car in a mall parking lot and then laughing as a befuddled shopper tries to find her car. They even use them at the school talent show to put on an astounding illusionist act which wins them the adulation of their classmates. Andrew becomes the center of attention but an attempt at his first sexual experience ends in disaster. This pushes Andrew over the edge and he begins to use his powers for more sinister purposes, resulting in several harrowing encounters for the group.
Chronicle presents a realistic look at regular people gaining incredible powers and does so with a fair degree of emotion and style. The use of their powers initially for fun, and then for show, progresses naturally into more selfish and violent practices. While Matt preaches caution so they are not found out, Andrew lashes out against those who’ve bullied and tormented him. The found footage genre has its place, I suppose, but not in this film. The style adds no value and becomes downright clumsy as we switch from Andrew’s perspective, to other “I just happen to have a video camera, too” perspectives. Found footage films are fine for certain movies where we get to see action we normally would not see but there’s just no point here.
First time director Josh Trank certainly impresses and does wonders with what was a remarkably small budget and without a major cast to work with. The telekinetic powers are pulled off in a believable manner. When these three kids are flying around and having fun, the film is a blast to watch. But Andrew’s constant abuse by those around him, particularly his father, comes off heavy-handed and it felt like he was piling on, as if we could not figure out that his life sucked.
Call me a stickler for details but I hate that we had this hole with some weird, presumably alien object in it that gave the guys their power, and then it’s completely forgotten about. When the boys do return to the hole it has been conveniently covered up and what it was and where it came from is left as a mystery. BOOOOO! Come on Josh. This isn’t a comic book. We’re going to need a little more In the way of exposition. Chronicle is fun if disposable entertainment but there was the potential for greatness.
Pre-Visualization (7:48) – a look at the rough animatics for some of the major stunt and visual effects sequences
Camera Test (3:55) the Camera tests of the main lead actors.