It's hard to take something that's been used time and time again and make it feel new again. The genre of the "found footage" film has tried this on several occasions only to have it fail in most instances. Chronicle is not really a "found footage" film since the footage was never actually supposed to be lost, but it's virtually in the same realm as the other ones. It is different in a way, because the intent here is not to scare you.
In Chronicle, three high school students make an unearthly discovery and develop powers that mankind has never seen before as a result. The young men decide to use their powers for fun and believe it's best not to let anyone find out about them. That fun and the secrecy that they desire might not last for long once they cross a threshold that they never thought would have to.
Chronicle is basically divided into two parts. The first part introduces us to the three primary characters. We learn a little about each guy and how they're perceived by everyone around them. Andrew (Dane DeHaan) is the nerdy outcast, his cousin Matt (Alex Russell) is a cool and friendly guy who chose to separate himself from the pack and Matt's friend Steve (Michael B. Jordan) is one of the most popular guys in school and wants a future in politics.
After introducing the audience to the trio, we learn how they get their powers. Once that happens, we follow them as they discover more and more about their gifts and watch them as they learn to harness them properly as they continue to grow stronger. This part of the film is almost completely positive and upbeat except for a few of the personal scenes with Andrew and his situations in life.
The second part of the film was a complete turn around from the first part. It featured a serious tone and a more volatile shift from one of the movies main characters. This change in tone and personality brings an interesting twist to the film, but it also allows it to go full circle in some ways towards the beginning of the end. The way Chronicle is presented from start to finish is done well, but I just felt like something was lacking.
I can't truly put my finger on it, but for some reason Chronicle was a little too impersonal when I think about what they were trying to do. As hard as they tried, the film didn't seem to click emotionally for me. Maybe it had to do with DeHaan and his performance as Andrew. He looked the part and performed well overall, but his back story didn't draw me in as much as I would have hoped. Add to the fact that some of his acting came off as inauthentic at times and I think that may have thrown some of those scenes off a little.
As for everything else, I love the story seeing as I was a comic book fan growing up. The story of Chronicle had a "birth of a supervillain" type of feel to it and they did it in a way that was at least justifiable and understandable. I also liked how easily the movie transitions into the second half. That seamless transition is important, because the two parts are polar opposites. It gives the movie the ability to flow naturally as the action cranks up several notches. The credit for that has to be given to the director since he handled the creation of the film.
Chronicle did almost everything that I wanted it to do. I was surprised at the fact that it was darker than I expected, but that was a welcome surprise. The story, the film's structure and the action (CGI included) lead the way here. They put a bunch of stuff into this movie and made it work. That's an accomplishment in and of itself when you look at how short the movie is. This is a good film with plenty of unique qualities and it had no problems with being different. That's rare to find in Hollywood these days.
Director: Josh Trank
Michael B. Jordan
Film Length: 83 minutes
Release Date: February 3, 2012
Distributor: 20th Century Fox