In Chronicle, three cookie-cutter high school caricatures (the repressed loner, the popular jock, the handsome philosopher) come in contact with an unexplained alien being, and soon find themselves able to move objects with their minds.
They start by hitting each other in the face with a baseball (really… that’s the best, most productive thing they could think of?), and evolve to flying high in the sky, tempting themselves with weekend trips to Hawaii or Tibet.
Cool concept, and one that could work given the restraints of the film’s modest, $15 million budget. It had the chance to be refined, and scale itself back unlike so many science fiction films made today. But, alas, Chronicle makes it through about 10 minutes before we realize how bad it’s going to be.
For starters, I’ve been an outspoken critic against the “found footage” narrative format since filmmakers thought they could capitalize on the success of Paranormal Activity. Basically, I think it’s a cheap ploy to “involve” the viewer more, and never have I seen the device abused worse than it is here.
In Chronicle, the main character, Andrew carries around a video camera wherever he goes, and that's how the film is captured.
When he runs into a high school hottie (who records everything she sees for her blog), the movie cuts to her camera.
Okay, I’m with you.
And when Andrew and his buddies walk into convenience stores and hospitals, the movie cuts to the security cameras of those buildings. Or, near the end, when Andrew starts to flip the fuck out and destroy all of downtown Seattle, the movie cuts to the various cell phones capturing the havoc. And then, finally, when his camera is broken, and the hottie is nowhere to be found, and all the cell phones are gone, the movie just shoots from the point of view of a movie, because, you know, who notices these things anyway?
This flaw, and what a flaw it is, is just one failed aspect of the film. I haven’t even touched on the dismal acting (Dane DeHann, who plays Andrew, may very well deliver the worst performance of a high schooler…ever, while Michael B. Jordan, fantastic as Vince Howard in TV’s Friday Night Lights, takes a serious career misstep), the don’t-cry-for-me storylines (Andrew’s mother is bedridden with illness, his firefighting father is an alcoholic…yawn), the awful special effects (the crazier their antics get, the worse the effects become), and the completely unappealing storyline.
Upon researching the film, I discovered that the film’s director, Josh Trank, is the same age as me, and the writer, Max Landis is a mere five days older than I am. I mention this because yes, their age gives me context, and it does make me appreciate their efforts more than say, a seasoned director who attempts the same garbage (I’m talking Michael Bay, here). But noble efforts only get you so far. Trank and Landis may have made a successful movie (its opening weekend profit was double its cost), but it doesn’t mean that I’m not allowed to call it what it is, which is utter crap. D-