Directed by Josh Trank
Entertaining, relatable, and miraculously plausible, Chronicle is one of the best superhero movies I've ever seen and up to this point, the best movie of the year.
Found footage films have become generic and superheroes have grown stale, so seeing a movie that combines both of these tired sub-genres into something totally fresh and original is a very welcome surprise. Seeing as how limited both found footage and superheroes are, the combination of the two was a work of genius. Despite not having the most original plot or character development, I still found it compelling and massively entertaining. As far as original superhero movies go, this has to be one of the best I've ever seen.
Unlike most found footage films, Chronicle makes no pretense about the authenticity of its events, characters, and surrounding mythos. It doesn't try to convince the audience into believing that this is a true story -- though I'm sure there are some people who would be dumb enough to believe it. No, instead of using this style as a means of presenting the subject in a factual manner, the filmmakers use it to delve into the personal life of the emotionally and psychologically damaged Andrew. Filming his everyday life as a way of separating himself from the world around him, instead of coming across as gimmicky, the found footage style works as a way to give the viewer direct access into his private life.
Andrew is a deeply disturbed character, and though the movie year has only just begun, I can easily see him ranking amongst the most complex and interesting characters of the year by the time it draws to an end. Of the three leading actors, there isn't a weak performance to be found. In fact, the entire cast is quite impressive. Featuring largely unknown actors, this is one of the more convincing acting ensembles I've seen in some time. Each and every actor is perfectly suited to their roles, and even though Dean DeHaan (who plays Andrew) is a definite standout among the cast, none of these actors seem at all out of place and all of which deliver strong, believable performances.
I enjoyed the fresh take on superheroes just learning to control their powers. Instead of instantly becoming masters of their new-found abilities over the course of a 45-second long montage, we see their skills slowly develop as they practice, and the characters also developing and changing along the way. Though it does fit the superhero formula of set-up, revelation, development, and climax, it takes its time and gives us a chance to see the realistic side of what might happen if a group of teenagers discovered they had superpowers. Mostly using these powers for their own personal entertainment and parlor tricks, the thought of being actual superheroes and fighting crime never even crosses their minds.
We've all seen the way superhero movies play out, but never quite like this. From its presentation, characters, and completely unique perspective, the fact that this movie doesn't have an incredibly original plot and story arch is much less detrimental than it could have been. As is always my belief, as long as the story is told well, it doesn't have to be completely original.