Release Date: February 3, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Josh Trank
FilmPulse Score: 7.5/10
Chronicle is the latest in a bevy of oncoming found footage films that are coming our way within the next year, and helps heal the wounds caused by the devil inside earlier this year. Standing as the first non-horror found footage movie, it gives us a slightly unique take on the super hero flick, and provides more substance than what appears on the surface.
The premise for the film is simple enough at first. Three friends discover a strange hole in the ground and upon investigating, they find a mysterious object that gives them telekinesis. As they develop their abilities, they realize there’s no limit to what they can do, and they are getting stronger the more they practice. Eventually, one of the friends begins to lose control, and the consequences are indeed dire.
For the most part, this is a very fun movie. Some of the most entertaining features of a super hero story are when the character discovers and begins using their abilities. In this film, the majority of the runtime is spent watching the three guys figure out what they an do and have fun with their powers. This in addition to the documentary style filming make everything feel very real. If I were suddenly given immense power, and was in high school, I would probably do a lot of the things they do in the film as well. A lot of the effects had the feel of the old Ratchet and Clank commercials, check them out on YouTube if you’re unfamiliar.
There are some dark themes in Chronicle as well. One of the boys comes from a dysfunctional home, with a terminally ill mother and an out of work alcoholic father. During the day he’s picked on and bullied in school, then when he gets home his father is waiting to verbally and physically abuse him. Although this may have been introduced simply to justify his transformation into the villain, it didn’t feel tacked on or out of place. We felt his pain through watching the video he is constantly shooting, as most of the film is through the lens of his camera.
One gripe about this film is in regard to the found footage style of shooting. The characters were all too often mentioning the fact that they were filming, or why they were filming, or just talking about filming in general. This became tiresome by the end of the film. There were also several instances, especially near the end, when there were camera shots that couldn’t be explained as to how they were shot. I’m not entirely opposed to this style of film making, but it felt obnoxious at times during this movie.
Chronicle is a great spin on the super hero story, and will most definitely spawn not only a sequel, but many more films in the same vein. With a solid story and some surprisingly strong writing, it overcomes the term gimmick and proves once again the the found footage movie can be every bit as genuine as a standard film.