A lot of people have dreams in which they can fly or move things with their mind – it’s a common recurring dream, like the one where you show up to a final exam and realize you’re still in your underwear. And it’s that universal relatability that makes Chronicle so effective. It takes telekinetic ability – which seems completely natural in our fantasy dream world – puts it up on the screen in documentary fashion and then chases it out to the furthest extreme.
It’s fortunate that it has that going for it, because in a lot of ways, it doesn’t have much else. The story seems as if it’s been pared down to the barest essentials. Three teenage friends stumble upon a large glowing object in an underground cavern and soon realize they’ve been given “super powers.” Much of the movie is spent with the three honing their newfound skills with adolescent pranks or efforts to impress the opposite sex. The origin of the object is never explained, and the characters don’t seem to evolve much beyond their initial stereotypes – a couple of guys from the popular crowd, and an outcast with a rough home life. But just when you think you’ve got Chronicle all figured out, it kicks into high gear and blows the doors off your perceptions.
It’s also at this point where the “found footage” style of Chronicle really starts getting in the way. When you’ve got people flying through the air, destroying large objects, and crashing through buildings, maintaining continuity while also maintaining the shot-on-video aesthetic requires some major contrivances. It puts such a big dent in the suspension of disbelief that it totally defeats the purpose of the found footage style in the first place.
Nevertheless, the last third of the movie nearly made me forget its shortcomings. The visual effects are so spectacular and over the top, you’ll find yourself reaching out your hand like a Jedi, trying to use your mind to crush the cell phone of the annoying guy in front of you who spent half the movie texting his girlfriend. Or at least, that’s what I did…
Dave_P studied fine arts and film history and is a graphic and web designer, and a diehard movie fan. David has been involved with a variety film festivals including the Cinephile Film Festival, the PRIDE Film festival, and the Manhattan Short Film festival, and is currently the director of the Dark Carnival Film Fest in Bloomington, Indiana. (www.darkcarnivalfilmfest.com)