Chronicle Review

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Year: 2012
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 1 HR, 23 MIN

Director: Josh Trank
Starring: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly, Bo Peterson, Anna Wood, and Ashley Hinshaw

Film Rating: 1 out of 5
I am not a fan of ‘lost footage’ films, I knew that from the start but I sincerely tried to give the genre a chance.  They all haven’t been bad but for every Cloverfield or Paranormal Activity there’s three shitty films to take their place.  Having given ‘lost footage’ what I consider a fair chance I can honestly say that the genre is now scrapping the bottom of the creative barrel to bring Chronicle to the screen.

A lonely boy buys a video camera to document his sad life filled with an abusive alcoholic father, a dying mother, and an unpleasant school life.  The camera-boy is Andrew (aka Emo Camera-boy) and he joined on this adventure by his cousin Matt (aka Philosophical Douchebag), and Steve (aka Token Black Jock) who find a mysterious hole in the ground after they leave a rave… that’s right… a rave, how very 1999 of the writers.  In this hole they find a giant, glowing Super Ball that causes nosebleeds and provides the teens with telekinetic powers.  The boys start off just being able to move small objects but soon begin to master their skills to include teddy bear manipulation and playing football at fifteen thousand feet.  Unfortunately having super powers doesn’t make being a teenager any easier especially when your under a lot stress.  It’s not long before everything begins to fall apart as the emo boy snaps and begins his crazed destruction of the city due to all his pent up teen angst.

The main three boys are boring one dimensional characters with no emotional arc and they all seem to live in a universe where teens have even less common sense than real world teenagers.  Dane DeHann who plays the emo camera-boy Andrew channels his best Hayden Christensen (Star Wars Episode II & III) and provides the most cringe worthy performance so far in 2012.  Andrew’s cousin Matt and their token friend Steve do little but exclaim how cool their powers are or how they need to have rules to protect themselves and those around them from their powers.  The only actor I recognized is Andrew’s alcoholic father played by Michael Kelly (The Adjustment Bureau).  He’s plays an effective asshole but it’s a one dimensional asshole that almost any decent actor could have played.  There’s also a subplot surrounding Matt and a would-be girlfriend but it’s just a thinly veiled excuse to have someone else carry around a camera ‘documenting’ all the important high school goings on.  Honestly they could have cast a bunch of dipshit teens from Teen Mom and I think I would have been just as impressed with the acting.

As with most ‘lost footage’ films the plot is pretty damn thin to start with and Chronicle is no different.  The emo kid buys a camcorder and starts documenting his entire life.  He’s not doing it for any particular reason he’s just doing it because he’s a sad, self-involved crybaby.  Then when he and his two pseudo-friends develop superpowers he continues to record their day-to-day lives even when any kid with half a brain would say, “maybe we shouldn’t record this since we’re essentially creating evidence that the police might find very interesting.”  When the story finally progresses past the point where the emo kid’s camera can tell the story the film conveniently uses Matt’s would-be girlfriend’s camera, security cameras, police & news copter footage, and even a police camera used for interrogations which they work in with slick dialogue similar to, “We need to keep the camera running for our interrogation.”  The combination of the ‘lost footage’ genre with a ‘superhero’ type story might have seemed interesting on paper but in reality it comes off more like paper thin allegory for a when a kid goes through super puberty and the god like destruction they can cause when a girl won’t go down on him at party.

Not wanting to be upstaged by the poor acting and lazy plot the special effects do their part to make sure Chronicle won’t look out of place in a few years as the SYFY Movie of the Week.  Most of the effects appear to have been done by the same companies that specialize in commercials such as the Nissan truck that skis and then does an “awesome” back flip… in other words the effects look cheap.   Whether it’s a small effect like a baseball floating in midair or the boys learning to fly it all looks poor even by ‘lost footage’ standards.

Chronicle was written by Max Landis, son of legendary writer/director John Landis.  Judging from his work here the family talent might have skipped a generation.  TV director turned first time feature director Josh Trank didn’t show me anything here that would make me think he’ll have much of a future directing feature films.  Maybe that’s the problem with ‘lost footage’ films in general; the bar is set so low in almost every conceivable way that even things most filmgoers take for granted like decent camera work is all but forgotten in exchange for shaky, out of focus shots, featuring shitty effects, and actors that attended the Larry Flynt School of Porno Acting.

This scene isn’t in the movie.  Sorry perverts.

There’s very little to like about Chronicle; the acting is a bad joke, the special effects are laughable, and the story (if you can call it that) is on par with a supernatural episode of HBO’s Lifestories: Families in Crisis.  Am I being a bit rough on Chronicle?  I don’t think so, I think this genre has gone to the well a few too many times and it’s almost dried up.  There wasn’t much of a film here to start with and when you add layer upon layer of shit you end up with a mess like Chronicle which is nothing more than a film about narcissistic teens with superpowers and poor decision making skills.  I have faith that you can make better decisions than they did… avoid this piece of shit.

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Written by

Nicholas Herum

  • themovieblog8

    Oh, it's awful. I enjoyed laughing at it with my friends, though.

  • StellaStar

    I hate the Nissan commercial.

  • 3guys1movie

    Finally a review that agrees with me about this film. That has to be the dumbest group of teenagers I have ever seen on film. I have the power of telekinesis and can move buildings. I need money for my sick mom better knock over the local gas and sip? lol
    Enjoyed your review