It seems strange that a kid with an abusive father, a nonexistent social circle and a decided lack of on-screen appeal would want to videotape every second of his life. This, however, is exactly what high school senior Andrew (Dane Dehaan) decides to do, and it is his film that the audience of Chronicle is subjected to for a full 83 minutes.
The found-footage technique used in Chronicle, in which all of the material ostensibly comes from Andrew’s personal camera, is nothing new for those who have been unfortunate enough to see Paranormal Activity, although it is used here less as a means for cheap scares and more as a vehicle for action sequences. It is entirely coincidental, of course, that Andrew just happens to have said camera with him when he and two companions discover an underground gemstone that imbues them with magic powers. And his newfound telekinesis also allows him to float his camera in the air above him, so that he can consistently capture every person in every frame of every scene. How convenient.
Cinematography aside, Chronicle is a movie about average superheroes, those Peter Parker-types who suddenly have greatness thrust upon them. And, as those types teach us, though, with great power comes great responsibility. As the three teenagers develop their new skills, members of the audience sit at the edge of their seats, waiting to see whether they will use their powers for good or evil. Who would have suspected that the kid with the troubled past would use his awesome strength to seek revenge on those who have wronged him? A few scenes later, all of Seattle is shrouded in ominous storm clouds and the promise of impending doom, and we all get to witness a Star Wars-esque fight to the death atop the Space Needle.
All in all, the found-footage style is interesting enough to get you through the first twenty minutes. The uninspired, overdone plot and the unconvincing CGI, however, isn’t likely to hold your attention. Good may triumph at the movie’s end, but I’d say that Chronicle is just plain bad.