I like super-hero movies but I’m far from fond of found footage films which present events from the perspective of characters documenting their own adventures. Chronicle stars out with a really good idea as it shows us what might happen if three high school misfits (Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan) found themselves with super-powers. However, the execution and thinly written characters produce mixed results for a movie that should have knocked my socks off as the shaky-cam pseudo-documentary style narrative is far from the film’s biggest problem.
The action sequences are impressive, especially the final battle between two of the super-powered teens, and the realistic way in which the kids used their powers (basically to screw with people and for their own enjoyment) worked well, but every time the film attempted to put the super-human powers on hold in favor of high school drama the film stalled.
The trouble with making the least likable character (DeHaan) the center of your movie, and then gifting him with God-like power, is the audience isn’t given a reason to care what happens to him. Even when he eventually goes off the deep end (something that isn’t so much foreshadowed as directly announced in every scene that it’s coming) we still aren’t invested enough to see him stopped or root for him to succeed in getting vengeance on all those who have bullied him over the years including his emotionally and physically abusive father (Michael Kelly) who is such a great guy he even attacks his son while he’s in a hospital bed!
Honestly, none of our three super-powered youths provide any reason for us to root for them or care about the outcome (which isn’t all that hard to figure out). I know plenty of people who enjoyed the movie in theaters, and I certainly didn’t hate it, but the film does little more than take very basic comic book concepts and display them an inferior way to what comics have been doing for decades.
That doesn’t mean the film doesn’t have moments, because it does. Several sequences in which the teens test their powers, the talent show in which one of them shows them off, and the final epic battle that closes the movie all work really well, but in the end that’s what Chronicle feels like – a sting of really good sequences strung together with a so-so plot.
Although the extras are almost non-existent on the single-disc DVD, the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack includes a digital copy of the film, an extended “lost footage” version of the movie, a deleted scene, a short behind-the-scenes featurette, and the theatrical trailer. The film is worth a quick rental for fans of the genre, but it’s far from the epic cult film some may wish it to become.
[20th Century Fox, Blu-ray $39.99 / DVD $29.98]