By the time Steve, Andrew and Matt become familiar enough with thier powers that they are flying at will and moving objects with nothing more than a passing thought, Chronicle already has you hooked.
First time director Josh Trank and writer Max Landis put together what feels like the most real life portrayal of what it would be like if teenage kids posessed super powers. As a self-proclaimed nerd when it comes to super hero movies and comics, this is exactly how I'd imagine teenage kids to act if given powers. Whether it's using thier powers to have a little fun at other peoples expenses or to further thier status at school, it never feels contrived. And when it comes time for one of the trio to turn evil, it comes naturally. How many times is it proven that anger and self-loathing is caused from an abusive and antagonizing head figure at home? It comes as no surprise when Andrew's father complains about having to pay for his public schooling and that it's his fault why his mother is in the condition he is that Andrew would lash out. It actually played out a lot like a modern-day telling of the story of how the X-Men's Magneto became a villian. Not necessarily inherently evil, but because of the events around him. I thoroughly enjoyed this storyline and the path Andrew was on.
Of course, the best laid idea is only carried so far if the performances aren't there. The three boys are all played perfectly. The witty banter for the first half of the movie is pitch perfect. The dialogue keeps you loose and right there with the boys as they develop thier powers.
When the plot takes it's turn towards the dark side, the boys don't lose steam.
With a lot of the found footage genre, a shaking camera is inevitable. The use of Andrew's natural talent for telekenisis to hold the camera and provide an answer to this problem was genuis. The camera is very still and can provide a look at the one "holding" the camera since he has no need to be behind it. At no point did I feel like I would be sick and I generally get motion sickness fairly easy. The use of Matt's girlfriend filming as well for her blog was a great way to have another perspective to the events going on around them. While the special effects aren't Avatar, they are more than serviceable. It was all very fluid and believeable.
With The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises due to come out this year, there isn't a shortage of super-hero or super-powers on screen. But with Chronicle, the story of three boys with powers and the consequences of their actions may be the best super-hero movie without a super-hero.