Divergent Review

Divergent is the most recent (and surely not the last) trilogy of young adult novels to get the big screen treatment.  We have already been blessed with Twilight, Percy Jackson, and The Hunger Games (which I actually enjoy), and now we get to see the world author Veronica Roth created in the widely popular series.  Divergent is the first story of the trilogy where we are introduced to futuristic post-apocalyptic Chicago.  Society has split into five factions based on personal attributes.  The factions are Abnegation the selfless, Dauntless the brave, Erudite the intelligent, Candor the honest, and Amity the peaceful.  Each faction runs a different part of the society, all working together so that there is never a war again.  When teenagers turn 16 they are forced to select which faction they will be in for the rest of their lives.  They may choose to leave their faction, but if they do, are never welcomed back to their families (Like the Amish).  Our protagonist Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) is in this predicament as she must chose which faction she will join.  The problem is that during her entrance exam, its discovered that she does fit into one specific category and doesn’t easily conform.  As you would imagine, the powers at be don’t like people thinking for themselves, and hunt down all that don’t fit into a faction, known as Divergants.

The premise for the film sounds interesting enough, as it’s relatable to what goes on in our society today.  While certainly less extreme, we all are put into specific categories through state-sanctioned standardized testing, and put into a box much like the characters living in this world.  The problem this movie has is that it asks these important questions, but choses not to answer them.  Instead we follow Beatrice “Tris” from her transformation from caregiver to protector of the city.  We have to watch her boot camp at Dauntless (brave), as she goes from the worst to best in class.  Everything that happens has been seen before, as the film adds nothing new, and chooses instead to ride what successful films have already done.  I found it difficult and tedious to watch this movie-enduring the love interests, friends turning on each other, and Tis’ incredible improvement in her fighting ability was painfully dull.  The action is spread out and what action scenes we do get, are so forgettable,  I’m having trouble remembering the film from one day ago.

It’s a shame to see Kate Winslet and Mekhi Phifer used almost solely for their name on the poster, and not properly utilized.  Shailene Woodley does a good job at having to carry this film, which was an incredible amount of weight for her to support.  She needed help but was left out to dry.  Director Neil Burger (Limitless, The Illusionist) struggled at putting this film together as one cohesive story, and instead it feels like a ton of scenes just thrown together, as the flow of the movie never materials.  You just don’t believe, or don’t care about the story the way you should, as the scope of the film seems big but never comes into fruition.  The filmmakers had this huge playground of a city to play with, but 80% of the movie takes place in a dimly lit room or narrow corridor.  If the story and script are weak you hope for a visually beautiful film, but in Divergent they missed on all parts.

Fans of the books may enjoy seeing the movie brought to life, but other than the real fans, I don’t know who will enjoy this film.  Just because you have successful novel/movie franchises doesn’t mean that it will always work on film.  Divergent, while having a fairly good cast, delivers nothing in the way of thrills, fun, entertainment, or uniqueness.  Coming in at 139 minutes, Divergent feels even longer, and with two more sequels in the works, lets hope that they can right this ship.. or train (Yeah I guess in the future our main mode of transportation will be trains).

Directed by Neil BurgerDivergent stars Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Miles Teller, Zoë Kravitz, Mekhi Phifer, Kate Winslet, and is in theaters now.

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Bad Words Review

Jason Bateman makes his directorial debut with Bad Words, an offbeat black comedy, raunchy and wrong, yet is able to show an incredible amount of heart.  Bateman stars as Guy Trilby, a 40-year-old high middle school dropout, who after finding a loophole in the rules, embarks to win the presigous spelling bee.  The only trouble is, his competition are middle school aged children.  The premise is simple, but Bateman is able to shine as one of the most unlikable characters in cinematic history (minus many a killers/etc.).  Along the way, Trilby is accompanied by by insecure reporter Jenny Widgeon, played hilariously and awkwardly by Kathryn Hahn (Step BrothersAnchorman).  She believes the story of Trilby will make a fantastic story, and is determined to get inside Guy’s head.  Guy however is unwilling to open up to anyone, except for 10 year old Chaitanya Chopra (Rohan Chand).  The rivalry/friendship between Guy and Chopra is hilarious to see, as Guyu shows the young estate contestant how to have a little fun.  While the actions of Guy are usually absolutely deplorable, by the end of the film there is enough heart that shines through and makes it a sweat story.  As long as your willing to overlook the foul language and actions of one of the worst people you may have ever seen, Bad Words is actually a fairly heartfelt comedy that will leave you laughing at times you know shouldn’t be funny, if you were a “good” person.

Bateman has made a career for himself playing the straight man in everything from successful television shows (Little House on the Prairie, Arested Development) to successful movies (Horrible BossesIdentity Theif).  As well as he does in these roles, its the offbeat roles which really seem to stand out.  Playing commentator Pepper Brooks in 2004′s Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, showed that he is more than a one trick pony, and could turn himself into an almost unrecognizable character.  Not to mention filling Michael J. Fox’s furry shoes in the teen wolf sequel, cleverly titled Teen Wolf Too.  In Bad Words, he takes it to a whole new level, as you immediately distain his character, but somehow can’t seem not to laugh.  By the end, you begin to see the motives, and even sympathize for his charter, while still never condoning his actions in the spelling bee.

Bad-Words-3With his directorial debut, you can tell Bateman is a fan of classic cinema.  Many of the camera tricks and stylistic choices are done by someone who clearly has a knowledge of film.  From the lense flares to slow motion, Bateman uses things he loves in other films, and successfully brings it all together for a surprisingly well shot debut.  Along with the aesthetics, the script is equally as sharp.  Written by Andrew Dodge, the screenplay was on 2011′s The Black List, which is a survey put out every year of the best currently un-produced screenplays.  Like many actors Bateman always wanted to be a direct films, and chose this script as his debut.  Together, he has crafted a well balanced raunchy comedy that does not fit into any specific category.  It’s a unique film that highlights the dark side that Bateman can tap into as an actor.

Bad Words is a film that from begging to end, you’ll be in tears.  For the first time, Bateman steps behind the camera, and proves that he actually knows what he’s doing.  The relationship between Guy and Jenny is awkward and funny, but the best relationship in the film is between Guy and Chopra.  They are two completely different people, but its hilarious to see Guy showing the youngster the ropes on having fun.  At 88 minutes, the film is well paced with enough story and bad words to make a unique slightly offensive film that will leave you wondering why you rely so much on spell chek, and whether you should’ve laughed as much as you did.

Bad Words starring Jason BatemanAllison JanneyKathryn HahnRohan Chand, and Phillip Baker Hall opens limitedly March 21, 2014 and everywhere March 28, 2014.

The post Bad Words Review appeared first on Age of The Nerd.

Bad Words Review

bad-words-jason-bateman-03-636-380(PCM) Jason Bateman (“Identity Thief”) makes his feature directorial debut with the subversive comedy BAD WORDS. He stars as Guy Trilby, a 40-year-old who finds a loophole in the rules of The Golden Quill national spelling bee and decides to cause trouble by hijacking the competition. While reporter Jenny Widgeon (Kathryn Hahn of “We’re the Millers”) attempts to discover his true motivation, Guy finds himself forging an unlikely alliance with a competitor: awkward 10-year-old Chaitanya Chopra (Rohan Chand of “Homeland”), who is completely unfazed by Guy’s take-no-prisoners approach to life.

Bateman gets to step completely out of usual straight man act, and he really takes advantage of it. The films premise is simple enough; a disgruntled man enters a enters a children’s spelling bee through a loophole to prove some point, that will be revealed throughout the film. As the contest goes on, “Guy” befriends an 11 year-old fellow competitor, and as you can imagine, hijinks ensue.

There is no doubt that Jason Bateman brings a little bit of “ Michael Bluth” into every role he takes on, but in his directorial debut, Bateman really brings on the characters’ resentment, that we all know he’s capable of, but usually holds back a bit in previous roles. Its great to see Bateman honestly looking like he’s having fun with a role, and its not just his performance. As a whole the movie feels like a breath of fresh air, something a bit different and defiantly screwed up. Fans of deadpan delivery should definitely enjoy this film. The way that Bateman’s character, Guy, treats children is uncanny. Nobody dies or gets physically hurt. But feelings? A childs’ feelings? They don’t just get hurt… they get smashed to bits, horrifically and often very profanely.

badwords_aThe heart of the movie is all about the relationship between Guy and Chaitainya, which is both hilarious and unexpectedly tender. “Bad Words” is a movie about loneliness and kids in need of better parenting, not to mention a ridiculous buddy flick involving an adult who dishes out a vivid verbal takedown of a unlikable mothers’ vagina and a kid who gets drunk and debates whether all women have nipples. All in all it’s a dark comedy that can make us believe in the friendship between a wounded jerk and a lost child and the ability in doing something right.

The post Bad Words Review also appeared on PCM Reviews.

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