Stupor powers

Teenage mutant nincompoop.

Teenage mutant nincompoop.

Rated 2.0

There’s a good movie and a great idea buried in the stagey muck that clogs up Chronicle, the latest entry in the “found footage” craze. There are so many of these found footage movies now, I feel like I’m writing about them every week.

A movie about three high school kids finding some kind of meteor and absorbing a strange energy that gives them super telekinetic powers is a magnificent idea. But hampering the movie with the idiotic premise that everything is filmed by the characters in an attempt for a new twist on the tiresome fake documentary gimmick is a terrible mistake.

That’s not to say there aren’t moments of brilliance. The potential for goodness is actually achieved multiple times in the movie, especially in its slam-bang finale. But seeing a movie strain for originality in showing how many different ways people can film each other is a slog to watch. It’s a major distraction and, in this case, completely unnecessary.

The three Seattle teens who get a little more than drunk at a high school rave are Andrew (Dane DeHaan), his cousin Matt (Alex Russell) and class president candidate Steve (Michael B. Jordan). Andrew has a new camera, and he’s chronicling the violence inflicted on him by his lousy father (Michael Kelly) and making a record of his mother’s dying days. Of course, like all high school kids do, he brings his rather large and cumbersome camera to the rave party.

Matt and Steve find a big hole in a field making ominous sounds. They invite Andrew along to investigate with his camera and, even though the hole looks and sounds dangerous, they dive in, because that’s what crazy high school kids do. They spy a large glowing object, get a little too close, and start spouting blood from their noses.

Cut to days later, as Andrew’s footage reveals that the trio has gained superpowers. They can crush things, stop things in midair and even fly. And they got it all on video! Even the part where blood was spouting out of their noses, where Andrew didn’t even bother to drop the camera and assist his friends or apply a hankie to his own nose.

Andrew is the main focus of the film as his character becomes the strongest of the three. This lends to trouble because Andrew also has the most teen angst due to bullying from his dad and kids at school. So he starts pushing cars off roads with the drivers still in them and yanking out bully teeth with his mind.

His ability to manipulate things also allows for him to let his camera hover around him, without a hands-on operator, while he’s doing all this stuff. So, on top of being a budding super-villain, Andrew can now frame a shot without even touching a camera or looking through the lens.

Another student has one of those crazy video blogs that all the teens are doing these days, so she’s conveniently shooting video as well. Everybody has video on their phone, so all of the material they manage to shoot makes it into the final edit. Director Josh Trank finds every conceivable way for somebody to be caught on video and incorporates it.

Something about Andrew also had me feeling a bit of a sulky Twilight vibe, and I figured out that DeHaan has a slight resemblance to Kristen Stewart. Actually he looks to be a combination of Stewart, Justin Bieber, Leonardo DiCaprio and Ray Wise of Twin Peaks fame. There’s a little bit of Leland Palmer in his evil grin.

It’s time to stop this moviemaking trend. It’s just a way for studios to take a $100 million dollar budget and turn it into $10 million. Granted, Chronicle looks better than most found footage films (the recent The Devil Inside was a visual mess), but it still has that sloppy element going on. It’s a lot cheaper to look sloppy than pretty.