First-time director Josh Trank takes a genre that was quickly careening into gimmick territory — the found-footage/POV style of “Cloverfield” — and injects new life into it with his debut, “Chronicle.”
Of course, it helps that one of his three teenage main characters, outcast Andrew (Dane DeHaan), is something of a cinephile and obsessive self-documentarian, which means a distinct lack of shaky camerawork for Andrew. And it further helps that Andrew and his pals (Alex Russell and Michael B.
Jordan) develop awesome telekinetic powers after a run-in with a mysterious glowing object buried under a field. Before long, Andrew realizes he can control his camera with his mind, having it hover around him in smooth, music video-worthy motions. Kids these days.
But even before the powers manifest, Trank deals with the first-person shooting in a much more elegant way than other filmmakers have before him. The story, as well, is a refreshing take on old territory: what happens when everyday people develop superpowers. Here, there are no Spandex suits or a sense of community service — apparently, with great power really comes great mischief and petty retribution. It’s a much more believable depiction of teenagers lives’ turning into comic books, and much more enjoyable.