Cloverfield, Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, etc.) style of filmmaking. Occasionally used as a con to get viewers to believe it is real footage, it is really just a clever way to hide a lower budget. There have been some successes using this style, and some abysmal failures. Every once in a while, "found footage" doesn't feel forced or cliched, and fits perfectly with the story being told. Like it does with Chronicle.
There are three main characters, although the story is really centered around Andrew, the boy behind the camera. He starts off very broken, having suffered years of psychological and physical abuse from his father. His life is so unfair that you can't help but feel for him. These aspects of Andrew's life give him a logical reason for using the camera; he needs it as almost a shield from the pain of his surroundings. This simple gimmick really sells the whole format, and also allows us to get emotionally invested in his character.
The other two major characters are Matt, Andrew's cousin and armchair philosopher, and Steve, a popular student and aspiring politician. Matt and Steve are not quite as central as Andrew, but each have an important role in Andrew's life. Steve represents Andrew's future, the prospect of breaking out of the horrors of the past that has previously defined him. Matt is tied to Andrew's past and serves as a moral compass, as well as the ideal of human law and family.
Eventually, they all gain powers. I won't say how or exactly what they are, but the way they portray these powers is a wonderful example of how superpowers might be addressed in real life. The characters use their powers like teenagers would: they lash out in frustration, play with societal boundaries, and even pull silly pranks on each other. The powers are also grown in a very logical fashion, starting with floating Legos and eventually graduating to crashing through buildings and tossing around cars. Thankfully, all the effects are an extension of the story, even if they are the catalyst for those events. It is nice to see the effects as secondary to the plot, where they should be.
The final act is, frankly, awesome. It is the culmination of all the events and choices that each character experiences. It expands the camera use to public cctv, news cameras, cop car cameras, witnesses' cell phones, and more. The explosion of exposure, and the extreme use of the powers happens in such an organic way that even with the abrupt shifting of quality and angle of the cameras, the narrative is unbroken. It is an emotional finale, and makes me wish that more superhero movies took the time to explore character the way this one did.
Chronicle isn't perfect. There are some flaws in the effects. The background characters are really just used as character motivation, set dressings, or convenient excuses for more cameras. But overall, this is an extremely satisfying and well-made film, and a nice addition to the superhero genre. I truly hope there is a sequel.
3 and 1/2 out of 4 floating Legos.