“Chronicle” Movie Review

     There really isn’t anything original about “Chronicle”, but what director Josh Trank and writer Max Landis bring to the table here is an abundance of creative touches.  Enough so that “Chronicle” will keep you guessing and is consistently entertaining.  The film is a slow build which culminates into a wild third act, highlighted by a superhero battle that couldn’t help but remind me of the climactic battle between Superman and the three super villains in “Superman 2”.  So much so that the film screams homage, but not quite.  “Chronicle” has enough within the story to set it apart and is one of the better “found footage” films I’ve seen.

     Matt and Andrew are teenage cousins who regularly used to hang out as kids, but have gone in different directions in high school.  Matt seems to be the more outgoing and popular, while Andrew is quiet and has recently taken to secluding himself behind a video camera of which he uses to chronicle the events of his life.  One night, Matt and his friend Steve bring Andrew (and his camera) to a tunnel they’ve found in the ground somewhere in a forrest outside the city.  The three go into the tunnel and discover something not of this world.  When they emerge, they soon discover they have telekinetic powers that allow them to move objects with their minds.

     The powers seem to develop over time as one of the characters compares them to muscles that must be exercised to grow. Eventually, they are able to move and control large objects, such as cars, and they even learn to move themselves, thus giving them the ability to fly.  While Matt and Steve seem to use their powers responsibly, Andrew is clearly not all there.  As is typical, he’s a teen with things going on at home.  His mother is bed ridden and dying.  His father physically abuses him.  Kids at school taunt and bully him.  Unlucky for all of them, he’s about to snap and that’s generally the direction “Chronicle” remains for its final half hour or so, which is to say a very entertaining half hour.

     You likely won’t recognize any of the actors in the film but Dane DeHaan (Andrew), Alex Russell (Matt), and Michael B. Jordan (Steve) are excellent throughout as they play their characters in this “What would you do if you had these powers” scenario.  What was really unexpected to me was the level of visual effects.  Nothing in the film looks cheesy and everything appears believable.  In one memorable scene, Andrew lifts a spider crawling on the floor with his mind and rips it apart into a dozen pieces without the slightest bit of emotion.  The effect is seamless with the live action and is something different to look at as far as a visual effect goes.  In another sequence, Andrew sends a vehicle off the road and into a lake with a simple wave of his hand.  Again, the way its staged, the effect is amazing.  Like its found footage cousin “Cloverfield”, “Chronicle” really puts on a show when the main characters are forced into a battle of good versus evil, though your never really angered by anything Andrew does since the causes of his rage are really not his fault.  In the end, this is really a story of tragedy, not superheroes.

     I’m thinking the filmmakers must be huge “Alien” fans since Matt is wearing a “Nostromo” (the name and insignia of the mother ship in Alien) t-shirt which is something that likely hasn’t been made since 1979.  For a teenager to be wearing a shirt like that now would have to mean his father had some influence, but that’s not really explained. Hell, I don’t even have a t-shirt like that!  If your looking for about 85 minutes of escapist entertainment, than I can’t see going wrong by watching “Chronicle”.  It’s kind of the anti “Twilight”.  A film where there’s plenty of teen angst within the structure of the plot, but we’re left with a quite a payoff for seeing it through. GRADE: B