Around this same time last year, Divergent was a box office success – pulling in almost $300 million dollars worldwide on its $85 million dollar budget. This was yet another attempt to kick-start a movie franchise based on a YA property, similar to that of The Twilight Saga and The Hunger Games. Where other similar attempts like Vampire Academy and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones have failed, The Divergent Series seems to be right on track to cash in. But has the lackluster second film in the series predicted the future for the franchise?
Taking place only days after the events of the first film, Tris (Shailene Woodley) and her love interest Four (Theo James), along with brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and frienemy Peter (Miles Teller), take refuge in Amity until they are ready to take on Jeanine (Kate Winslet). Meanwhile Eric (Jai Courtney) and his army have been searching Abnegation for a box marked with all of the symbols of the factions. After uncovering the artifact and taking it to Jeanine, we learn that only a Divergent can open it – causing her to order the capture of their kind. When Eric shows up to Amity, Tris and her friends escape on a train to Factionless territory – where we are introduced to their leader Evelyn (Naomi Watts). She asks that Dauntless join forces with the Factionless to take on Jeanine and the Erudites.
In 1950 Walt Disney Productions was $4 million dollars in debt, and took a huge gamble on producing the $3 million dollar animated feature Cinderella. It was a film that would either make or break the studio. Yet here we are, and we all know the outcome of the film – 65 years later as we watch the live-action re-imagining of the classic, which is revered as one of the greatest animated features of all time.
Kenneth Branagh (Hamlet, Thor) directs a screenplay by Chris Weitz (About a Boy, Antz) in a straight forward adaptation that doesn’t try to flip the original story, which audiences know and love, on its head. The film follows the classic animated version pretty much beat for beat, and it isn’t at all a bad thing. We do gain more insight into Cinderella’s childhood, and relationship with her mother (Hayley Atwell) and father (Ben Chaplin) before they pass away, which only helps to grow the connection we feel with the main character – played by the charming Lily James (Downton Abbey).
Before Ella’s father passes away, he tries one more attempt at happiness by marrying the widowed Lady Tremaine – masterfully portrayed by Cate Blanchett (Lord of the Rings, Blue Jasmine). Blanchett may look as lovely as ever, but she is evil incarnate as the wicked stepmother. Never before has a cartoon villain come to life on film in such dastardly fashion, as the actress makes it extremely easy to hate her character to its core. Blanchett is in good (bad?) company, as she brings her terribly nasty daughters Drisella (Sophie McShera) and Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) with her to live in the house. True to form, the wicked stepsisters are just as cruel and awful to Cinderella as you would expect. All three actresses do a fantastic job of making the audience loathe them.
Ummm… I mean Chappie. A movie that our legal department requires us to inform you resembles RoboCop in no way whatsoever (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). So please ignore all of the cops who are robots, and the Peter Weller sound-alike voice work, and that giant evil robot which doesn’t at all look like ED-209.
It’s Reel Spoilers #85 – CHAPPiE.
You’ve been warned.
Starring: Tom O’Keefe, Justin Staggs, Joe Buttice, Kevin Brackett
Run-time: 1hr 37min
This week (last week?) on the show we take on the latest from Will Smith – Focus. Good or bad there’s one thing on which you can rely…there’s no way it can be as awful as After Earth.
It’s Reel Spoilers #84 – Focus.
You’ve been warned.
Starring: Tom O’Keefe, Chris Fulgham, Blake Fehl, Kevin Brackett
Run-time: 1hr 10min
Enter for your chance to receive a pass for two to a special advance screening!
THE DIVERGENT SERIES: INSURGENT raises the stakes for Tris as she searches for allies and answers in the ruins of a futuristic Chicago. Tris (Woodley) and Four (James) are now fugitives on the run, hunted by Jeanine (Winslet), the leader of the power-hungry Erudite elite. Racing against time, they must find out what Tris’s family sacrificed their lives to protect, and why the Erudite leaders will do anything to stop them. Haunted by her past choices but desperate to protect the ones she loves, Tris, with Four at her side, faces one impossible challenge after another as they unlock the truth about the past and ultimately the future of their world.
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Octavia Spencer, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer
Director: Robert Schwentke