Oh goddammit 2012. January and February are supposed to be shit months. How am I supposed to unwind from the stressful holiday months by tearing into terrible movies when you keep putting out good ones? It's quite annoying.
Ahem. The story is concerned with three teenagers who, while wandering off from a party, discover a cave and a thingamajig (technical term) that grants them telekenetic powers. The vast majority of the film is devoted to them testing their abilities and their developing personalities, and is presented found footage style (unroll your eyes).
And I do mean unroll them, it's actually a fairly unique and interesting presentation of found footage. It begins it's journey to being interesting by actually skipping the usual reason found footage is done, IE to hide crappy special effects or a low budget (or poor direction). Chronicle never goes that route, instead using interesting techniques (usually multiple cameras held by different people but eventually the characters telekenetically moving the camera around them) to actually show the events crystal clear, and actually use some good cinematography. It seems the primary reason behind the found footage aspect was to allow the characters to have little asides to the camera and to play fast and loose with continuity.
The script, while nothing Oscar worthy, is surprisingly sharp, combining clever dialogue and interesting characters. Okay so the character arcs are a little too telegraphed (you can tell from before the second act begins, who's going to be the hero, who's going to be the villain and who's going to get killed to show that shit has gotten real) but it all works really well, mostly because it's all assembled so well and the characters and their arcs feel so real. There's also some heavy subtext based around bullying and how it can psychologically affect a person, and I must say I can find myself understanding and sympathizing (yes, I was bullied in high school, contain your shock). I will say that these characters reactions to getting superpowers, while often childish and selfish, feel a lot more like how a real person would react to getting superpowers. I mean, not everyone who gets the power to fly is gonna want to dress up in colorful costumes and go beat up people right?
And the action, the action is fucking awesome. I can't tell you WHY it's so awesome, because that would be spoiling how the movie ends, but let me tell you, this movie has all sorts of fun with the way telekenisis can be used, both in combat and just in screwing around.
There are a couple complaints I have, nothing major but enough to keep it from surpassing The Grey. There are some very odd editing choices here and there, especially near the middle, mostly as a result of the found footage aspect. And while the 3rd act is epic and the ending is surprisingly affecting, the way it's presented seems to be setting up a sequel this film REALLY does not need.
Look as I said earlier, it's February which means that most of the stuff in theaters is probably going to be terrible. But here we have to really excellent films out this early in the year, and it'd be nice if they (and the upcoming Studio Ghibli film) could be nice sized hits, if only to act as a counterweight to all the other upcoming films that fill me with RAGE at their very existence (I honestly cannot remember the last time I was as angry at a trailer as I was at The Lorax). So this one comes HIGHLY recommended.
Elessar is a 22 year old Alaskan born cinephile and if The Avengers can't live up to this movie's 3rd act, they're going to look very silly.