CHRONICLE (2012, Josh Trank): 3/10
I have two big problems with this movie. First of all, the found-footage thing… can we stop with this shit yet? When the format works to enhance the film (usually in the horror genre e.g. THE LAST EXORCISM and the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY films), I’m fine with it. But doing it just to do it doesn’t make much sense, especially when you have to spend a good chunk of the screenplay inventing reasons for the format. I mean seriously, people in this film constantly explain why they’re filming it, and then cameras appear out of nowhere to justify the footage we’re seeing. But why? With CHRONICLE, it’s pointless. Does it add realism? No. Does it add tension or fear? No. Does it make a comment on our media fascination and YouTube culture, a la the extremely clever and painfully ignored film THE VIRGINITY HIT? Not in the slightest. Secondly, I guess the message of CHRONICLE is that “it’s a good thing superheroes aren’t whiny, emo losers with anger management issues.” Look, I’m all for unlikable antiheroes. But this kid isn’t even an interesting one. Dane DeHaan’s Andrew is a pathetic stick-in-the-mud, even after he becomes a superhuman, psychokinetic marvel. I wanted the film to follow anyone but him. Unfortunately, our good-guy identifier is played by Alex Russell, an even worse actor who can’t manage a believable emotion even when he simply has to laugh. Trank’s premise is a decent one, but almost everything went wrong in the execution, including one of the most poorly staged action climaxes in years (good special effects are wasted on ridiculous direction hampered by the found-footage gimmick) complete with a hilariously terrible villainous roar from DeHaan. Trank probably wanted us laughing at three kids playing football above the clouds, but the last 15 minutes are far more risible.