‘Chronicle’ offers new twist on superhero genre

Published 8:44 am Friday, February 10, 2012

Superhero movies are appealing because they invite us to imagine what might happen if we in the audience were suddenly gifted with superpowers. These movies invite our loftiest fantasies, but while it’s a lot of fun to let our imaginations run wild, these stories are simply not very realistic.

Until now.

The new movie “Chronicle” deals with this issue, asking what would really happen if a trio of teenage boys were suddenly able to move things with their minds?  They might eventually get around to acting like superheroes, but they’d probably start out by playing tricks on their friends and classmates. You know, they’d act like a bunch of teenage boys.

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“Chronicle” is the story of three such teenage boys who find a mysterious asteroid buried in the ground. Somehow this gives them telekinetic abilities. The first half of “Chronicle” documents the sheer joy these teens have while exploring their newfound powers. They start off small, but quickly escalate to bigger hijinks and pranks. The problem is that one of the boys is an angry and socially awkward loner. These superpowers give him the ability to exact a little vengeance on those who have wronged him.

With that in mind, you won’t be surprised to find out that the film does eventually fall into the silly mayhem of a traditional good-vs-evil final struggle. It’s a bit of a let down because the rest of the movie is so much fun to watch. These boys are wide-eyed with wonder and eager to explore their powers. When they eventually realize that they can fly, for example, they do so with a giddy sense of exploration as opposed to the standard idea that flying is only a tool used to help our hero fight crime. That enthusiasm is simply infectious to watch.

“Chronicle” is also noteworthy for having some very believable special effects. Bear in mind that this is a quickie film with a mostly unknown cast and certainly without the special effects budget of a major Hollywood blockbuster. The filmmakers nevertheless provide several totally believable action set pieces that simply shouldn’t be possible on such a low-budget indie film.

The film does have some problems, such as a few characters that are more caricature than flesh and blood figures. It’s very short (under 90 minutes) and the ending is something of a letdown. That being said, “Chronicle” is mostly a lot of fun and provides a fresh twist on the superhero genre. It’s a pleasant surprise for early February.

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published bi-weekly in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM-TV and KBOI 2-TV. Sean welcomes your comments via email at smcbride@kboi2.com.