Expectations can be everything walking into a film. When all you know is that the film is a found footage exercise into the superhero genre, it makes you hope for the best. But what starts out as obnoxious, starts to get better before the ending comes along to completely ruin everything. You’ve seen this movie before, and it was called both Spider-Man and Cloverfield. However, I’m sure those comparisons will be more than enough to pique the target audience’s interest. And so it is, that where so many have gone before, comes Chronicle, to try to top them all.
Poor Andrew (Dane DeHaan) is this episode’s bullied teen at school. When not getting harassed there, he’s also abused at home by his unemployed, alcoholic, ex-fireman father, Richard (Michael Kelly). Andrew’s mother Karen (Bo Peterson) is sick and bedridden because the insurance money his father is collecting doesn’t leave them with enough to cover Karen’s medication. Andrew rides to school every day with his cousin Matt (Alex Russell) who also talks him into attending a rave. While there, Andrew gets punched in the face for filming someone’s girlfriend dancing and is found outside crying by Class President hopeful, Steve (Michael B. Jordan).
Steve was sent by Matt to find him, however, because they want to use the camera he carries everywhere to check out a huge hole they came across in a field. Of course the three venture into the hole where they find a huge pulsating energy mass and eventually they’re all back at home where they start to realize they’ve gained new superpowers. While at first wanting to keep their new found powers under wraps, sure enough, things slowly start to go from playful to serious. Everything reaches its boiling point at an after party for the school talent show as Andrew’s life situation (and sanity) begins to unravel while his mother’s illness goes from bad to worse causing the film to ultimately turn into Pity Me: The Movie.
Walking out of the theater, a fellow press member coined the story as “Peter Darker,” and he’s right. It’s just that as far as the found footage genre goes, this one winds up breaking its own fourth wall. One character, Casey (Ashley Hinshaw), is completely extraneous and only used to introduce another camera into the mix, which is basically cheating the formula. But things get drastically worse as director Josh Trank starts implementing footage from everywhere from security cameras to spectators phones, which makes you wish Trank and writer Max Landis had just gone the traditional filmmaking route. Hopefully, Chronicle will wind up as a standalone feature as the well has already been run dry. But we all know that’s never the case.
Photos courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.