When I first saw the trailer for Chronicle a couple months ago, I mistook it for a viral advertising campaign for some sort of HBO series. Maybe it was the amateur “found footage” style, or the large amount of plot points that were given away up front. You can imagine my confusion when I found out this was a major motion picture. The reception to the film was even more puzzling. A few boards I frequent were abuzz with positive remarks on it, and I even had multiple friends who said they’d really enjoyed it. Then again I know a lot of people who for some reason really enjoy bad movies. I can’t tell you how many people I know who are in love with the new Transformers trilogy… may Michael Bay burn in the depths of Hades for that. Regardless, I went into the film not expecting much. After seeing it, I’m glad to say that Chronicle is well worth your time.
The story follows three teenagers who, after stumbling upon a mysterious object in the ground, are given telekinetic powers. All three of the characters are really interesting, which is a large part of what makes the film fun. Andrew, the lead character and the one who records everything that happens, is an unpopular and lonesome guy. Couple that with his dying mother and abusive father, and you have a character that’s really easy to sympathize with. His cousin, Matt, is a much more charismatic and lively guy, who tries really hard to get Andrew to have fun and make friends. Finally we have Steve, who’s a quarterback at the high school the boys attend, and the most boisterous of the bunch. Admittedly, Steve was my favorite. He’s a great counterpart to the seriousness that we get from Andrew. Overall, all three characters are well played and likable, and I can definitely say that this movie will be a career booster for all of the actors.
The first half of the movie is all about Andrew and company making mischief with their new powers. The great thing about this is that the amateur style the movie is shot in makes all of the visual effects seem a lot more believable. To the director of the Paranormal Activity flicks: take note. This is how you do a found footage film. Really, the entire way that the beginning plays out is believable. The way that the characters use their powers is probably the same way the vast majority of us would, if we had them. Who cares about fighting crime when you can bring a teddy bear to life and terrify small children with it? Not me.
Chronicle’s twist comes in the form of, you guessed it, Andrew abusing his powers and essentially going a bit mad. What follows this turn is a lot of heavily dramatic stuff, and it’s especially interesting because of the way Andrew is portrayed as a tortured soul. It’s a lot more emotional zeal than in your average superhero movie. An interesting thing to note is that the word “superhero” is never used in Chronicle. Perhaps that’s because when it really comes down to it, it’s only a superhero movie from an aesthetic point of view.
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be granted telekinetic powers, you should definitely check this movie out. The last movie that captured superhero “realism” this well was probably Kick-Ass, and I might even go so far as to say that Chronicle did it better. I tried not to give away any of the finer plot points, because this story is really quite interesting, and you will absolutely want to see it unravel for yourself.