When a high school loser gains superpowers through an encounter with a mysterious crystalline structure, will it help him become happy, popular and successful or will it amplify his dark side and give his anger an outlet so he can lash out against his hurtful world, gradually increasing in power until nothing can stop him and he goes on a rampage? That’s the concept behind Chronicle, but the film ends up an all-too-predictable formula film built around “found footage” cinematography and a series of completely inexplicable relationships.
The loser in Chronicle is Andrew (a sullen Dane DeHaan), who is bullied at his nightmarish high school, beaten and abused by his alcoholic ex-firefighter father (Michael Kelly), and has not a single friend. In an attempt to create a psychological barrier, Andrew acquires an expensive video camera and videotapes everything that happens in his life. The entire film is shot from either the point of view of Andrew’s camera, that of video blogger Casey (Ashley Hinshaw) or surveillance cameras that are on scene during the later action scenes.
The other two main characters in the film are Andrew’s cousin Matt (Alex Russell), who has an inexplicably warm, supportive relationship with Andrew, and Steve (Michael B. Jordan), a popular athlete who is running for school president when the film opens. Given the cliché horrible high school that they attend, rife with bullies and completely unsupervised (we never see a single teacher or adult in any of the school scenes), the two handsome, popular boys befriending perpetual loser Andrew was the most baffling story element of the film.
The common underlying theme of this genre is redemption and it’s a satisfying hero’s journey to watch the troubled child gifted with some amazing powers, learn to tame them – and his own dark impulses – and ultimately become a happy adult. By deliberately not taking us on this journey, Chronicle creates a tension that is never resolved, something that left the audience unsatisfied and disappointed with the good vs. evil finale.
I wanted to like Chronicle. I like films about teens who gain powers and learn to master them and create their own life — kinda like The Karate Kid — but the predictability, the formula, the cliche-ridden storyline made the movie more of a series of impressive special effects in search of a story than anything else. Definitely skip this in the cinema and its worth as a rental depends on how much you care about storyline.