Ever since The Blair Witch Project found footage movies have found new ways to use this certain style of filming. Like Cloverfield, Chronicle features a group of kids who do their own filming during the entire movie. Even though this style is already becoming trite, Chronicle has found an interesting new take on the superhero genre.
Three high school students Andrew (Dane DeHaan), Matt (Alex Russell) and Steve (Michael B. Jordan) have just become super. They aren’t heroes yet, but they do have super powers. After finding a strange glowing rock in what appeared to be an abandoned mine, the three of them soon discover that they can move things with their minds.
Like we’ve learned from Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility.” So, these kids do what anyone would do with these powers, they use them to pull pranks. They move cars around in parking lots so their owners are completely confused when they come out. They chase little girls around in toy stores with floating teddy bears and then run away laughing. Isn’t that what we’d all do if given these powers? At least at first, right?
The movie has even found an ingenious way to get rid of most of the nauseating shaky-cam that plagues these movies. Andrew is the film buff, who has decided to film everything in his life. Mostly due to the abuse he suffers at the hands of his drunken father. Andrew soon learns that he can control the camera with his mind. Making it float around the scene instead of it having to be held by any one character. This certainly cuts down on the stomach-churning visuals that made Cloverfield hard to watch at times.
Where Chronicle becomes really interesting is when the inevitable change begins happening between these characters. Superheroes and super villains are essentially the same, only one fights for good while the other evil. Chronicle subtly purports that the influences we have in our lives would most likely influence one to become good or evil. It’s pretty simple right? Andrew is constantly beat on by his father. His mother is sick and dying. Does Andrew think that the world is good and fair? No. It’s an unjust place and now that he has power he feels like he can bend it to his whims.
The setup between superhero and super villain is the best part of Chronicle but it takes a little too long getting there. It’s fun watching these kids abuse their powers in harmless, prank-like ways, but soon we want the story to progress. It does, slowly, but it could’ve gotten to the point faster and more succinctly.
By the time the movie comes around to its climax it cheats quite a bit. There are times you’ll find yourself wondering, “Okay, now who’s filming?” The answer isn’t easy, because the filmmakers simply assume we’re fully invested in the gimmick that we won’t ask questions on where this actual footage is coming from.
In the end Chronicle is a decent enough addition to the superhero genre with a new way to tell the story.