At first, the guys — including Andrew’s cousin, Matt (newcomer Alex Russell, channeling early Chris Evans), and their classmate Steve (Michael B. Jordan, Red Tails) — have fun with their newly acquired levitation skills, which they use to pull harmless pranks. But as Andrew grows more despondent over his so-called life, the heretofore good boy starts to use his powers for evil.
Chronicle is more than just a found-footage film — it’s a unique twist on the superhero origin tale. This story could be the birth of a criminal mastermind like Lex Luthor, as you won’t find a single cape fluttering in the wind. Although the acting leaves a little to be desired — especially from Jordan, presumably trying to usurp Will Smith — the simple story is the star. That is strong enough to stand without the slam-bang destructorama ending we get, but the effects are too nifty to want it that way.
At less than 90 minutes with credits, Chronicle unfolds speedily, as if made directly for the teen ADHD audience it depicts. It could have move even faster had director Josh Trask excised the one supporting character who detracts from the narrative, rather than adds to it: Casey (Amanda Hinshaw, LOL), the cute vlogger to whom Matt takes a shine. It’s not Hinshaw’s fault, but screenwriter Max Landis (son of the legendary comedy director John Landis, who most recently helmed Burke and Hare after a long, long absence), who doesn’t give her any tangible role to play.
The Blu-ray offers one deleted scene, all of one minute, in which she and Matt goof around in the kitchen, and she loses her shirt. It’s of no consequence, but it does raise an interesting point: If Chronicle were real-life, forget floating Legos — this would be nothing but girls having their clothes ripped off.
Also in the extras: a few minutes of very rough pre-visualized effects, and camera tests with different, douchier actors. I’d say I’m afraid Fox missed the boat to move copies of the mostly terrific Chronicle soundtrack album by not offering more than a static ad page, but who am I kidding? We know those kids have long downloaded the MP3s illegally. And probably a torrent of this flick whole they were at it.
A low-budget sleeper smash this spring, Chronicle is worth the minimal time investment for those seeking a sci-fi story taking a different, occasionally clever route. Besides, at home, the handheld camerawork won’t make you nauseous. —Rod Lott