I had been looking forward to seeing “Chronicle” for weeks after seeing its intriguing trailer. The more I heard about it, the more I wanted to see it. Superheroes? Yes. An attractive cast? Oh yes. Suspense? It sure looked like it. “Chronicle” seemed to have a lot going for it, but I left the theater with only one thought: how could a movie about flying super teens fall so flat?
“Chronicle” is part of the increasingly popular “found footage” genre that I cannot stand. The shaky camera movements left me feeling sea-sick, and yet, the cinematography in “Chronicle” is not mindless. Director Josh Trank incorporates the shooting style into the narrative and character development, but overall it was gimmicky and grating.
Andrew (Dane DeHaan), one of the three superheroes, uses the camera to create distance between himself and the world. The film tries to portray him as a sympathetic character, but with little success. He becomes a manipulative, violent super villain who no longer deserves my sympathy. In fact, by the end of the movie, I actively disliked him.
The other two superheroes, Andrew’s cousin Matt (Alex Russell) and Steve (Michael B. Jordan), were the main highlights of the movie. Russell made Matt, a pretentious, philosophy snob, into a likeable character with whom the audience sides. Jordan already established himself as a fantastic dramatic actor on the television series “Friday Night Lights,” and this movie allowed him to provide a more light-hearted, sexually-charged levity.
A movie about superheroes should have pretty amazing special effects, right? Wrong. I understand that “Chronicle” did not have a budget anywhere near “The Dark Knight” or “Iron Man,” but I just cannot forgive the fact that, not only did I notice the green screen, but I was distracted by it. Not all the effects were cheesy, though. I think that they tried to make the movie larger than it needed to be. Being able to fly and move things with your mind is cool enough.
“Chronicle” is not a typical superhero movie with constant action sequences; the film builds much more slowly. I happen to love slow builds, but I don’t love when I can feel filmmakers trying to manipulate my feelings. Fortunately, “Chronicle” wasn’t able to use telekinesis on me.