Now Playing: The Best Found-Footage Film Since ‘Cloverfield’

I typically dislike the “found footage” genre. It’s one of the weakest forms of cinematic entertainment – not to mention one of the cheapest, since the filmmakers don’t have to polish the look of their movie and can get away with casting no-name actors. ‘Chronicle’ doesn’t quite use the gimmick in the newest of fashions and it’s filled with unrecognizable actors, but it’s a whole lot better than other recent entries in this genre such as ‘The Devil Inside’ or ‘Paranormal Activity’.

‘Chronicle’ follows three teenagers who find a hole in the ground in the middle of a wooded meadow. One of the kids is a loner who aspires to one day make movies, so he carries his camera around with him everywhere he goes. As he documents their journey into the strange cave, the teens find a massive glowing system of crystals that resembles Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. After touching the crystals, each kid begins to develop super powers with unlimited possibilities.

Imagine what it would be like if three immature teenage boys suddenly obtained super powers. That’s what the fun first two-thirds of ‘Chronicle’ is like – dumb teenage boys being dumb teenage boys who can fly, control objects with their minds and avert pain and injury. Having spent a good chunk of my life in absolute immaturity, I enjoyed watching these kids do the same things that I would have done in that period of my life. Unfortunately, the third act falls apart. It’s not completely wasted, but could have been so much better.

The majority of this origin story is spent showing how the kids develop and exercise their new strengths. However, the final act divides them into superheroes and supervillains, which wouldn’t be a bad idea had the road to villainy been one that actually inspired such instant cruelty and hatred. The motive for going evil is hardly believable and even less entertaining to watch. The climactic confrontation is about 50% fun and excitement and 50% ham and cheese. Had it not been this way, ‘Chronicle’ would easily be a four-star film. As is, it’s a whole star less.

Rating: ★★★☆☆


  1. JM

    ‘Chronicle’ is the $15M film school version.

    Reboot a $150M Hollywood version with real talent, then I’ll watch it.

    For fuck’s sake, ‘The Raid’ was made for $1M.

    You spend 15x the money, you better bring 15x the awesome.

    Based on ‘Chronicle,’ FOX is letting Josh Trank reboot ‘Fantastic Four’?!?

    • I wish I had $15 million in film school! Hell, I wish I had $15,000 in film school!!

      No movie with a budget that has a “million” in the number can be described as “film school.”

      • JM

        $15M for a superhero movie is a film school budget.

        ‘The Crow’ got $23M.
        ‘Kick-Ass’ got $28M.
        ‘Tank Girl’ got $25M.

        FOX is cheaper than my uncle Bob.

  2. Drew

    I got dragged to an advance screening of ‘Chronicle’.

    It’s patently terrible.

    So far, it takes the cake as the worst film of 2012.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it holds on to that title throughout the year.

    • JM

      Worse than ‘The Devil Inside’?

      ‘Journey 2: The Mysterious Island’
      ‘One For The Money’
      ‘We Have A Pope’

      Worse than ‘Once Upon a Time in Anatolia’?

      Worse than half of that Sundance bullshit?

      Worse than the ‘Phantom Menace 3D’ kiddie trailer on io9?

      • I love how, in the midst of listing off a bunch of crappy movies, you throw in the title of one film (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia) that has received almost universally positive reviews as if it were so obviously another p.o.s. that deserves to be lumped in with the likes of The Devil Inside.

        • JM

          Subliminal marketing, Mr. Z, a bit of the ol’ milk-plus.

          Nuri Bilge Ceylan, award-winning writer-director of ‘Three Monkeys’ needs all the brand awareness he can get.

          ‘Once Upon a Time in Anatolia’ is praised by critics as “Being chronological, while following no obvious storytelling patterns.’

          157 minutes of Turkish masterpiece.

          A nod’s as good as a wink. 😉

      • Drew

        Yes. Even worse than the films you mention here.

        The acting is middle-school drama class level.

        The script is so preposterous, you can’t even suspend disbelief for a single second, to try and buy into the premise. The dialogue is more wooden than in a ‘Star Wars’ prequel. And the entire screenplay is riddled with cliche’s.

        The effects are putrified. I don’t know that I’ve seen effects this bad in at least two decades.

        Believe me, there’s nothing positive about ‘Chronicle’. It can’t even be classified as a guilty pleasure, like some of the films you mention can be.

        Unless you are a dork of male gender, between the ages of 12 and 16, avoid this one like the plague.

  3. Drew

    The Tomato meter doesn’t mean anything. The scoring system is fundamentally flawed. A critic can be indifferent about a film, and that counts as a positive review.

    Just look at ‘The Descendants’. It was nothing more than standard genre fare, and utterly mediocre. And yet it is at what? 94%?

    I’m completely incredulous that ‘Chronicle’ is sitting that high.

    It was an absolute turd!

  4. Brian H

    I’m no fan of this found footage concept abd yet… Actually, I was quickly surprised by some of the fundamentals achieved in the movie right off. 1-2 minutes into the movie and I knew enough details to be interested in the main character and his cousin- not enough to sustain a whole movie, that comes later, but while I disliked the main character right off, he was characterized in a way interesting enough to care about the first several scenes of the movie. Being bombarded by Star Wars Episode I 3d adds, it’s amazing to be somewhat interested in a character and their motivations.
    Likewise, my friend and I watched the third act wondering why Superman Returns and similar features couldn’t achieve a similar level of engagement.
    If you object to this film because teenagers play loud music, then try to watch it as a sequence of comuppence. “I can ride my bike with no handlebars”