WARNING: This post contains spoilers for key scenes in the movie, Chronicle.
I enjoyed this movie a lot more than I thought I would. At the same time, it’s a movie that isn’t exactly shelf-worthy and definitely more of a one-night rental than something you’d shell out a few clams to see at a theater. What I thought was interesting about this movie was it uses three angles to tell the story—two limited perspectives, and one that’s more “omniscient.” The two limited views we get of the characters are through the cameras of one of the main characters (Andrew Detmer, played by Dane DeHaan), and one supporting character (Casey Letter, played by Ashley Hinshaw). Occasionally the movie gives us a break from these cameras, one example of this is when Alex Russell’s character (Matt Garetty) interacts with Hinshaw’s character at a party. He’s turned off the camera he’s holding, and we see more of a half-and-half. Part of the interaction is from a third-person perspective and part of the interaction is recorded through the camera Hinshaw is using. So I think this is more of a “home video”/real time-hybrid than a “found-footage” type of movie.
For those of you who haven’t watched this yet, I’m sure I’ve thoroughly confused you by now, so allow me to backtrack and attempt to make things a little clearer. The three main characters in this movie are Andrew Detmer, his cousin Matt Garetty, and Steve Montgomery. Steve’s the stereotypical popular kid that seems to have everything, looks, smarts, and social charm. From what I gathered, he and Matt have been friends for a while, though I don’t think Matt was always a “popular” kid. I think it was more like he just kind of worked his way up. Anyway, since Matt and Andrew are cousins, and Matt is always hanging around Andrew, Steve becomes Andrew’s friend too by association.
I think one thing I really enjoyed about this movie was everything just seemed to make sense to me. Yes, there were clichés and stereotypes riddled throughout the movie, but there wasn’t anything that really made my eye roll. If anything, I think from the back story we’re given on Andrew, the way the story progresses actually seemed logical to me. The other part that I enjoyed about this movie is the fact that I think there were definitely elements in the movie that I think people can relate to. For example, who hasn’t dreamt of having super powers like being able to fly or move objects? I know I sure have.
I think one of the most interesting things for me about this movie was even though there’s hardly any in depth background on any of the characters, I found myself strangely invested in them. I found the character development to be believable. Some people may have rolled their eyes at the fact that Andrew’s powers seemed to be developing at a far more rapid pace than either Matt or Steve, but I felt like it actually made a lot of sense. For one thing, Andrew’s got a lot of built-in rage. He’s constantly getting beat up and put down by people at his school and even his father at home. Sure he’s got Matt and Steve for friends, but I think he felt like he only got closer to them as a result of the powers they now share, and had they never received them, they probably would never have gotten as close as they ended up getting over the course of the movie. The only person that I think Andrew really genuinely cares for is his extremely sickly mother, whose existence is the only thing keeping him from completely snapping.
Anyway, when Andrew gains his powers, he finally gains a means to fight back against people who he didn’t stand a chance against before. I think when you look at his development in terms of psychology, he has more reason and motivation to hone his newly found skills than the other two characters. Unfortunately, those same feelings of resentment and rage that fuels his strength also ends up being his Achilles’ heel. He’s the kind of kid that no one really understands and no one’s really taken the time to understand. I think he’s also the type of kid where if someone had given him more of a chance, he probably wouldn’t have ended up the way he did by the end of the movie. In a way, I think Steve caught onto this at some point, and Matt caught onto this as well, though much later. By the time I think Steve realizes it though, it’s already too late, and things are definitely far beyond repair by the time Matt seems to get it.
Oddly enough, I think that up to a certain point in the story, there was still a window of opportunity where things could have ended up panning out differently for the three boys. The scene that I have in mind in particular as the “make it or break it” moment was when the boys were (in a library, I think?) talking about going on a vacation someplace. I think Steve mentioned something about Maui (for the girls, of course), but Andrew insists that they all go to Tibet. The other two protest because of the climate and because they feel there’s not much to see there, but Andrew really wants to go because he thinks it’s going to be really peaceful there. I think if Steve and Matt had taken Andrew a little more seriously and gone, it might have done Andrew a world of good. That point of the story to me was also the calm before the storm; everything in Andrew’s life was at a brief plateau—I don’t think his mom’s situation was necessarily getting better or worse, Andrew’s dad hadn’t escalated in his violent outbursts yet, and things were sort of okay for Andrew at school. They ended up not going anywhere though, and just continued their lives in a business as usual type of fashion. Unsurprisingly, everything just went downhill for everyone from that point.
By the end of the movie, I’m sure there are plenty of people watching this film who are tired of Andrew and his “childish” ways of dealing with things. I think though, that’s one of those things where it’s easier for an outsider to say things like “tough it out” when they’re not the one’s actually in the situation. Maybe my studies in psychology (from when I used to want to be a psychologist) really influenced how I watched this movie, but I think that the tantrum that Andrew had at the end of the movie made sense—his character had finally hit his limit, and he’d had enough. He was done listening to people and definitely done being misunderstood.
This is one of those movies where I really liked the ending too. Very bittersweet, but I think appropriate for this particular movie. In a way, it’s a bit of a too little too late type of gesture, but Matt takes Andrew’s camera to Tibet and says a few last words to his cousin before taking off to who knows where, leaving the camera behind to continue recording the Tibetan scenery. I think it’s safe to say his character has become wiser by the end of the movie. After all, he’s lost a friend and a family member, probably can’t go back to his home because of all the chaos Andrew made there, and he’s not only removed from the human race because of his supernatural powers, but now he is also the only one with them.
I suppose the only real unanswered questions of the movie revolve around the powers themselves. Like what exactly was it that the boys had found at the start of the movie? Why did the hole they found it in seemingly close up by itself? (Though I must say, when I saw that part for some reason I thought of that “Cave of Wonders” scene from Disney’s Aladdin, lol.) Also, how did the powers even transfer in the first place? Where did the alien source come from and why was it underground? Not to mention I wonder if there would be other side effects later aside from the random nosebleeds and feedback noises. Oh well. I think every movie has its fair share of unanswered questions, haha.
Here’s my ratings breakdown for this movie:
Re-watch Factor: ***
FINAL VERDICT: B+
Again, maybe it’s because of all those psychology courses I took in school, or maybe it’s because I like watching things that remind me of shows like CSI or Criminal Minds, but I did enjoy this movie. I also found that after watching it, my mind wandered back to some of the things I learned from those courses I took. I feel like one of the trends a lot of these people who feel driven to kill have are that they came from broken homes, they were bullied, had difficulties socially, etc. Of course there are always exceptions, but in a lot of the cases I studied, there seemed to be a lot of potential triggers for the domino effect.
Anyway, I’m just going to end the entry here because I feel like I’m starting to stray off topic. As always, thanks to everyone who’s been following this blog and liking my entries. See you again next time!