'With great power comes great responsibilities' - Now haven't we heard this before? Especially when it comes to superhero genres? Well, the obvious is heard all over again in 'Chronicle', a film that has come out of nowhere, doesn't boast of a single notable name, hasn't enjoyed any hype around it but still manages to make a good impression. Now this is all the more impressive since unlike quintessential Hollywood flicks that have boasted of multi million budget, 'Chronicle' has been made on a far less budget but scores big in one department - 'Entertainment'.
Three high school kids (Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan) end up gaining superpowers by a fluke. Neither was there any desire amongst them to save the world nor were they the adventure types to go and explore the unknown. Still, by fluke, they now gain the kind of power that carried enough potential to make things move as per their desire. This means that what begins as sheer fun and entertainment could threaten turning into something far deadlier if not kept under control. While Alex and Michael still believed in the adage of 'With great power.....', Dane had other plans.
A plotline like this could have turned into one routine superhero affair a la a 'Hancock' (since that too dealt with a a regular guy gaining superpowers) if not for first time director Josh Trank. Instead of making this as one fast moving adrenalin pumping high octane superhero sci-fi flick, he keeps 'Chronicle' young enough to qualify as a teen superhero film with a difference. Yes, there is grey side to a character or two here but by and large, the film stays away from straying into a zone that has been explored by many earlier superhero flicks.
This is made possible by the high school setting of 'Chronicle' and also the fact that hand held camera is introduced as an important character in this tale. Just like 'Blair Witch Project', even 'Chronicle' has camera doing the talking with some of the most interesting episodes in the life and times of the trio being captured. Though at times this does lead to a jerky narrative, one doesn't quite complain since that's the kind of treatment one can well expect in this story telling technique which is turning out to be a genre of it's own.
Other than the narrative, what keeps 'Chronicle' interesting is a good share of light hearted moments in the film. Whether it is the girl being scared of a 'moving' teddy bear or a car being moved around in a parking lot or the magic being performed at a school event, they serve as good enough ingredients in 'Chronicle' that thankfully doesn't pick the mantle of saving the world, something that most superhero films are accused of doing.
Of course it isn't all fun and frolic till the very end of the film because predictably, there are pit falls of gaining such powers laid down as well. The most obvious suspect here is Dane who was always expected to take the darker road, considering the fact that he came from a broken family. While Michael is projected as an all-fair guy, it is ultimately left to Alex and Dane to fight it all out. What follows is an explosive climax (well, literally) which is a tad long drawn and also seems rather misfit in the larger scheme of things. On the flipside, those who were expecting superhero action due to the genre get something to cheer about.
There is a hint of moral values along with conduct and responsibilities in general that are touched upon as well. Thankfully though none of that is pushed down the throat which means 'Chronicle' stays on to be a reasonably entertaining popcorn affair that doesn't even attempt to get audience into a thinking mode. Well, for a film that was never pretentious enough to claim of anything spectacular in the making, it stays true to its path and does fine as well.