When Chronicle first hit theaters, many mistook the film for another alien invasion flick. The marketing posters drummed up thoughts of 2011’s failed blockbuster, Skyline, while the shaky cam style was a reminder of Cloverfield. However, the film was only remotely about aliens (and even that point is never quite clear) and more about teenage acceptance. Truthfully, it was a super powered tale in the vein of Spider-Man or the Fantastic Four. The pacing in Chronicle may be a little slow for theatergoers, but on Blu-ray you can better savor this slow-build sci-fi tale.
The film begins by introducing us to Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan), an outcast teenager with an abusive father. Andrew has just bought a new camera and is documenting his life. Most of the movie is depicted through the lens of the camera, with only a few moments taking place off camera. Andrew sits in the shadow of his cousin, Matt Garetty (Alex Russell), who is more popular. When Matt encourages Andrew to attend a party, their lives change forever. At the party, Matt and his friend, Steve Montgomery (Michael B. Jordan), discover a mysterious underground cavern and ask Andrew to film it.
The next day, the three discover that they have been granted mysterious psychokinetic powers. Andrew, Matt and Steve develop a new relationship through their shared secret. As time goes by, their powers increase and with it, the ability to cause more chaos.
If you’re a comic book fan, Chronicle feels like an extended origin story that never really builds up until its climax. Most of the time, the friends are just enjoying being teenagers and their newfound powers, while engaging in normal adolescent pranks. As their powers increase so does their potential for chaos. Much like Spider-Man, there is a “with great power comes great responsibility” moment.
If you’re used to alien invasion movies or super powered films, this movie will come as a shock because it’s more about a teenage journey of self-discovery than about heroes fighting villains or earth’s war against alien invaders. It’s not until Steve and Andrew begin to develop a real friendship that the seeds of a “hero” conflict begins to arise. When it does, it almost comes as a shock if it weren’t so predictable. The story takes so long to introduce the final conflict that you will probably work out the details in your head half way through the film.
Despite Chronicle’s juxtaposition to the alien-invasion and superpower genres, it does present an entertaining teenage drama. There are definite emo moments filled with needless melodrama as well as an awkward sex scene with Andrew that is never really clarified. Still, despite the one-trick plot, this is a film that will make you wonder, “What if … you did have superpowers.” And, a film that makes you dream, however minutely, is worth the watch.
The Blu-ray release is lacking in special features. You will get a deleted scene and a camera test, which depicts some of the flying sequences. But, they’re both throwaways.