Chronicle is without doubt a fun and enjoyable exercise. Among all the enthusiasm of bewildering flying sequences and other astonishing FX however, writer Max (son of John) Landis submits several disappointing moments that almost completely erase the good time everyone was having before they left the cinema. The story and teaser trailers doing the rounds seemed to promise a unique take on the ideas of super-powers and telekinesis. I personally was hoping for something special, but clearly it rightfully lent itself to dubious frowns from many a cinefile as well. I decided to have faith in our new young visionaries of writer and director (Josh Trank), but it only ended up feeling average and primarily a missed opportunity. Was I victim to the hype then? Expectations too high? I’m not so sure to be honest, because Chronicle suffers mainly for the same reasons a lot of genre films do; good concept, unfortunate execution.
Though I don’t think it’s fair to use the whole “found footage genre” fad against it like it seems to be by some commentators. Yes, it is all seen through the eyes of a video camera, but the quality, type of and person shooting (within the film) is mixed up so it’s not as banal to look at as say The Blair Witch Project or Cloverfield. The script was the main problem; plot holes and poor dialogue are all too frequent. Not overly cliched but the ones present are difficult to ignore (but not as much as that woeful Godzilla knock-off). By all means I too can adore some films that have these issues and just let the fun override them, but I couldn’t completely with Chronicle. I can’t decide if it was rushed, studio trimmed or just plain lazy on the part of Landis. I’d be interested in seeing a director’s cut to be honest. Technically it was well made and contained some brilliant effects considering the budget. The finale was brief but exciting, though really just a mash up of the final acts of Carrie & Akira in what does feel more homage than rip-off however. Characters and performances range from good to distractedly annoying, which is typical for a mostly unknown young cast. Our main lad, Andrew, rings out as a major stereotype sadly, only redeemed by a decent effort from actor Dane DeHaan .
To summarize, the filmmakers are young, enthusiastic guys keen on bringing something unique to the screen (even if it is slightly diluted) so I won’t knock it too much. As a first effort for them, it certainly could have been much worse. This is not a bad movie. No doubt a sequel will be made too and I’ll check it out if at least they can promise I will be treated a little more intelligently when it comes around, because ultimately as brain at the door stuff, Chronicle succeeds. I think it’s mainstream agenda/attitude caught me by surprise though. I figured it was going to be some unique independent take on an episode of (TV show) Heroes maybe, but it felt more like a Michael Bay/J.J Abrams creation just with less money. No denying the massive hit it will be though – it was made to be just that after all.