Wangst - n - a portmanteau of "whiny" and "angst." Symptoms include complaining constantly about maintaining your 4.0 GPA, your hot girlfriend not leaving you alone, and how nobody "understands you" despite having a large group of friends. Often seen among popular, good looking rich kids in film and television.
This...this crap needs to stop. If there's one thing I can't stand it's this. And it wouldn't be so bad if real life was anything like it. I mean, I was a kid. I went to high school. I don't remember anything that exciting or epic. In fact it pretty much sucked, along with college. Where were my $500,000 house parties and friends with convertibles and really tough decisions to make about which of the 10,000 super-model ladies attending the school I wanted to take to the most important event of your life, THE PROM?
Hah! Trick question! It's always the nerdy one who cleans up real nice who you go with!
Seriously, Daphine would have just played with your heart and stomped on it...
Getting back to "Chronicle," while it does possess a handful of those issues (mostly the INSANELY elaborate and expensive house party WTF), the amount of wangst is kept at a moderately acceptable level. Not only that, but by about halfway through the film, for the most part the film has deserted it completely in favor of a riveting and engaging film that I was, admittedly, enthralled by.
The first half of the film consists of mostly high school douchbagery, sure enough, with characters talking in that very obnoxious way that screenwriters think that young people talk. Once the 3 leads get their powers, it becomes even more irritating because it basically turns into "Jackass" with super powers as the main characters, Andrew, Matt and Steve go around and basically terrorize Seattle with their new found telekinesis. And at first I was really get annoyed with the movie, although I did acknowledge that if a bunch of high school kids got super powers, this is probably exactly what they would be doing.
But then, something unexpected and wonderful happened: consequences. Andrew and the others screw up. A lot. And, although they do get off clean because nobody can prove anything, bad things happen as a result of them screwing around, and they realize that they should be more careful with their new found powers.
This effectively put an abrupt halt to the douchbagery from before, which was a relief, but it also begins the character development of the second half of the film, where Andrew and the others begin having very different ideas about what their powers mean, and how they should be used. Matt and Steve, who have always been popular, are of the opinion that their powers should be used for good. Andrew, on the other hand, who has always been an outcast and has had a much more difficult time than the others, feels that these powers make him better than human. Looking at nature, he decides he is an "apex predator," and should rightfully crush anyone who causes him trouble, which would be most everybody. Dane DeHaan, who plays Andrew, does a great job portraying a character who you both sympathize with, and despise by the end.
"A lion does not feel guilty when it kills a gazelle."
And that's what a good superhero story needs: a good villain. And oftentimes the most interesting villains are ones that, had things happened a bit differently, could have been allies with the heroes. True evil, although it has its place in fiction, is kind of boring because it really never started anywhere. It just IS. But Andrew is not "evil," although he's doing bad things. From what you see of his life beforehand, his progression from Matt and Steve's friend to nemesis feels totally natural, and had things gone down in a different fashion than they did, I think "Chronicle" could have made a very good origin story for a new, unique series with an interesting and tragic superhero/supervillain dynamic.
From a technical standpoint, there were a few annoyances, particularly having to do with the camera. While the movie is not shot entirely in a documentary style, there are significant sections of the movie that are. A good portion are from Andrew's camera that he got to document his life, and that he carries around everywhere. It's a tad more believable than other movies like "Quarantine" or "Cloverfield" in that there are fewer instances where any sane person would have dropped the camera ages ago, but those moments still happen occasionally.
The way they get around that is that they inter-cut the handheld footage with other things like security cameras, but there is also a good amount of traditional style footage as well. This is reserved for the moments when it would either be impossible to catch all of the scene with one non-omniscient camera, or those moments when there are no cameras around.
In fact, some of the most impressive moments of the film come from those moments of security camera footage, because depending on the camera, there is (fittingly) no sound. There are a couple moments, particularly one in a hospital room, when the mute video works almost like a "reverse stinger," meaning those really loud orchestra hits that play in horror movies when something scary happens. Yeah, those annoying things. Only in this movie, it's silence instead of a loud bang. It's fascinating to me the greater impact that silence can have over that when something big happens. It lends a gravity and almost dignity to the moment that shrieking violins can't match.
So overall I was not bothered at all by the changes in perspective. Some may find that irritating that it switches, but consider the alternative where the entire climax of the scene would have been a big, scrambled mess. And that would have been a shame, because the climax of "Chronicle" is fantastic. It plays out much like a video game not unlike "inFamous" or perhaps a good "Matrix" sequel. I'm not joking when I say that I was wide-eyed and slack jawed for the entire ending fight.
If there was one thing that bugged me from a technical standpoint far more than the camera did, it would have to be the flying scenes. The rig that they had for making the actors float worked well when they were moving and flipping around and whatnot, but whenever they had to just kind of float there, it looked terrible. The actor's center of gravity seemed to be located somewhere around the back of their necks with how slouched over they looked while just "standing" there.
Looking like a cat picked up by the scruff of your neck diminishes the majesty of flight.
Lastly, the issue of "where did their powers come from?" may be really off-putting to some. To sum it up briefly, you don't know. That's about it. They find the source of the power, and when they go to see it again, it has been buried again, beyond their reach. There are no answers given to us beyond "it was this that did it to them." And of course, you never even know what "it" is.
Did this bother me? Meh. Not really. I took it as something that was mysterious, and that's all you needed to know. "Chronicle" stayed consistent enough with the powers the characters had so as not to raise any significant questions about "why this and not that," so I really didn't need to know. I think being given an answer would have raised far more questions than answers in this case, anyways.
THE BOTTOM LINE - "Chronicle" surprised me with how much I enjoyed it, particularly since I had heard fairly negative things about it. While I can't call it a superhero movie, it fits nicely in that genre. One is reminded of "Unbreakable," and it seems to me that "Chronicle" is a much more entertaining and fulfilling version of not necessarily that story, but of the notion of "realistic superhero." Recommended.