I've stated in the past that I'm not a big fan of the found footage genre. That's not to say there aren't good examples of them, but I usually roll my eyes when I see one's coming out and prepare myself for more bad acting and a shitty ending.
After seeing Chronicle, I can't really call it found footage as much as just it was just shot in a found footage style. Maybe it's that it does a good job of transcending it's genre.
Chronicle follows the story of Andrew (Dane DeHaan). Andrew is shy and kind of a social outcast. You see in the opening moments that he has an alcoholic and abusive father and that his mother is sick and bedridden. He's picked on at school and his only friend is his cousin, Matt (Alex Russell), and even they aren't that close.
Andrew buys a cheap video camera and starts to film his life. He does this as kind of a social barrier and to chronicle (yes, I did it) his life. One night at a school party, Andrew, Matt and another classmate, Steve (Michael B. Jordan), go to check out a mysterious crater they found in a field. They find 'something' in the crater and things get weird.
The next thing you see is that the three of them have found that this encounter has given them telekinetic powers. They quickly learn that the more they use their new-found power, the stronger they become. At first they are just having fun with it, using it to screw around and play pranks on people, but as their power grows they start to realize they can do almost anything.
After an accident, things get a little serious and they setup some rules for how they should use their powers moving forward. For a brief time, things start to look up for Andrew, but stuff just keeps happening to him to bring him back down, and you know where this is all going to end up. That's about all I'll say.
This movie was a pleasant surprise. Chronicle is essentially is superhero origin movie. For a lower budget film, it does some really creative things. The effects are done pretty well, although there are a few times where I thought they looked kind of cheap, but that's easy to forgive here. You wonder why you haven't seen stuff like this in some of the bigger superhero films. This movie doesn't waste any time either. It's only 83 minutes, but it's so packed that it actually felt longer. I mean that in a good way.
The performances by the three main teens are all great. Dane DeHaan in particular. I felt his portrayal as Andrew was very sympathetic and while you'll see that he's a little off from the beginning, you'll understand why a kid like him gaining powers might do the type of stuff he does. I found myself rooting for him in the early parts of the movie. I joked on Twitter earlier that he decides to become Darth Vader, and I don't think that's all that far from the truth. I actually think his reasons for turning bad were better than Anakin's reasons in Episode III, so I still sympathized with him. Maybe my darker leanings is why I enjoyed it so much.
This was directed by Josh Trank, who co-wrote this along with Max Landis. This appears to be the first feature film for both of these guys, so I'm really impressed with the first time effort. I'd love to see what they could do with a bigger budget.
Oh and it actually has an ending, so it doesn't leave you hanging like other found footage films. In fact, the end of this movie rivals any big budget superhero movie you've seen in the past few years.
Overall, I really loved Chronicle. I've already said it this year, but I think this may end up being one of my favorite films of the year. It's great for an early February movie, but this would have help up well during the Summer. It's a great superhero film, that doesn't follow the same superhero format you've seen a ton of times lately. It's original, creative and definitely worth watching.
4 (out of 5) Death Stars