I saw Chronicle last week, and I was a little disappointed. It wasn’t a terrible film, but it certainly wasn’t as good as the reviews would have you believe, with a Rotten Tomatoes score in the mid-80% range.
The movie opens with Andy setting up his new video camera. “I’m filming everything now,” he tells his father, who is pounding on the door. Andy is clearly established as the protagonist, and he’s a relatively sympathetic one at first: the picked-on underdog, largely friendless, son of a dying mother and abusive, alcoholic father. The problem is that Andy never grows beyond that, and we never have a clear grasp of what Andy wants. To be liked? Maybe. He asks his cousin, Matt, “Do you like me?” But it never seems like that’s really what he wants, and even in the scenes that hint at it–like the storm-cloud confrontation with Steve–it’s not clear. In that scene, he accuses Steve of not really liking or caring about him, because before they got powers, Steve wasn’t his friend. So even if friendship is what Andy wants, he is incapable of recognizing when it is offered to him.
The character who really seems to want something is Matt. But Matt doesn’t grow, either. He’s a thoughtful person with a sense of responsibility when we meet him, and he pretty much ends up that way. So even if he were considered to be the protagonist, he doesn’t struggle with anything that makes me care about him or the story.
The movie wasn’t all bad. It had stunning effects and some genuinely honest moments. The way the boys discover their powers and learn to use them seemed authentic. Teenage boys who gain telekinesis really would use it to play silly pranks. Several scenes between Andy and Matt were touching. In spite of those positives, though, there was no sense of struggle and I was bored and anxious for the film to end less than 2/3 of the way though it.