By MICHAEL WALTERS
“Chronicle” is one part superhero origin story, one part “Cloverfield.” It shares Cloverfield’s found footage visual trappings and asks the right questions, but it’s not quite as fresh or intelligent as it thinks it is.
Andrew is a shy maladjusted teenager who provides the camera we see everything through. When his cooler cousin Matt drags him to a high school rave — he’s rolling when Matt and the glad handing class president Steve stumble onto a strange alien spaceship buried in the ground outside. They head down the rabbit hole, find a strange glowing orb and emerge with new superpowers, and the ability to fly.
Since we’re not in a Spiderman movie, these teens don’t immediately use their new powers to go out fighting crime. Instead they test them out first for silly teenage pranks like moving cars in a parking lot, or peeking up girls skirts and playing with legos. But as they continue to test out their new powers they get more powerful, and more likely to go out of control.
I give the movie credit for asking the right questions and examining the corrupting power of their newfound strength. While Steve and Matt are insistent on keeping their powers secret and keeping them under control — Andrew becomes more and more eager to settle old scores. He’s been bullied at home by an abusive father, and at school and he’s finally got the power and will to defend himself.
I don’t have to tell you who becomes the monster terrorizing everything in sight. The whole found footage genre has become a cliché by this point, and this movie tests the audience’s patience with its ADD addled visual style. But it at least has a reason for its found footage style. When it sticks to the themes of isolation, the downtrodden and the corrupting power of power, it gives the brain and the eyes a little something extra. But too often the film tosses away its more existential questions in favor of some bad CGI and a lot of the usual Hollywood destruction.