Pros: Good acting by the main characters, good and bad special effects
Cons: Luke warm script and inconsistent effects
I actually tried to see two other movies last night but both were sold out ("The Vow" and "Safe House") so I went to see the "Number 1 Box Office Hit" from the previous week, "The Chronicle". While I certainly don't think it will win any awards, the film is decent "escapist" entertainment. Once again, I found myself to be the only person over 30 in a very crowded Friday night theater (I'm 65).
Andrew Detner (Dane DeHaan-"In Treatment") is an introverted high school student with a horrible home life. His mother is dying of something and his dad is an abusive alcoholic. Dane one "friend" is his cousin Matt Garretty (Alex Russell "Wasted on the Young") who is much more popular and fairly intellectual. Andrew decides that his role in life is to chronicle his fellow students' lives with the use of a vidio camera that he takes everywhere (much to the annoyance of his peers).
Matt is invited to a party out in the country and he persuades Andrew to go. Andrew is reluctant but he takes his camera and makes himself a nuisance before, unexplicably, one of the more popular boys in the school, Steve Montgomery (Michael B. Jordan-"Friday Night Lights", "Parenthood" and "Red Tails") invides Matt and Andrew to "see something fascinating in the woods." I won't describe exactly what the boys find but the journey chances their lives forever by giving them special powers to move objects and perform a wide variety of feats that mere mortals cannot do-like flying.
At first the boys use their newly-found powers for their personal amusement but then things begin to get ugly. I'll stop here so as not to spoil the plot.
WHY I LIKED THE FILM BUT DIDN'T LOVE IT
I read a very brief non-professional review that praised this film for its originality. In one aspect, the special effects there are interesting moments of originality, but the overall theme of the film is as old as the hills: Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This story goes back to the Biblical David and is explored by a number of authors, probably best by Robert L. Stevenson in "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." So, the movie is not really all that original.
I was fairly impressed by the acting of the three main characters, Andrew, Matt and Steve. Dane Detmer (who was excellent in "In Treatment" is convincing as a nerd but I found his performance less convincing as he becomes the "Mr. Hyde-like" character later in the movie. Matt Garetty, as cousin Matt plays a fairly straight "good guy" role and his performance is solid. Michael Jordan who I've enjoyed in the three shows mentioned above is also convincing as the outgoing Steve.
What was not convincing to me was the fact that Steve would have anything to do with Andrew. They come from two completely different "worlds" but they are suddenly bosom buddies after their experience in the woods. I also found the film to be predictable in the boys' (especially Andrew's) move towards the dangerous use of their powers.
Director Josh Trank ("The Kill Point") does utilize the generaly good special effects well and keeps the action moving. Max Landis (first movie) provides a decent plot although the last few minutes of the film, for me, was full of unexplicable holes in logic. I stated "generally" good special effects because those effects were uneven to me. For me, the new "abilities" and the use of those abilities just didn't make much sense.
On the other hand, there is some humor is the film and the young people around me seemed to enjoy the movie.