Summit Entertainment via Everett Collection
Beneath the many tiers of convoluted sci-fi world building that make up the skin of Divergent, there is what might pass for a simple and humane heart: the message that a person should be more than "just one thing." That the truly worthwhile among us won't fit so snugly into the rigid compartments instituted by society — both ours and that of Future Chicago — because "not fitting in," as it turns out, is actually a better gig. That in Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley), we — the silent majority of outcasts — have a new idol to vocalize the values in being different. But it's really difficult to attach yourself to a character like Tris with writing this terrible.
Although the parameters of her role would logically allow for enough personality, imagination, and good old fashioned chutzpah to make Tris a relatable human being, there is almost no personality to be found in the script's version of the hero. The entire Divergent world is lacking in this area, in fact. From the onset of her introductory voice-over (almost forgivable, because there might actually be no other way to introduce a society so cluelessly complicated), we can feel something lacking in the construction of the film's hero. Tris explains the nature of the five societal factions that exist in Future Chicago — Dauntless (the brave), Abnegation (the selfless), Erudite (the intelligent), and two others that don't really come into play, mentioning with a foreboding tone that those who don't belong to any faction are shunned by the world and cast to desolation (that's her, if you don't already know). But in these crucial opening minutes, Tris' exposition is as lifeless as it is brainless. Starting with Erudite, Tris fawns like an empty-headed child, "They know everything." A regrettably imbecilic line, but probably the peak of the character's nuance. From there, we get very little out of Tris, or any other of Divergent's citizens, that isn't cold, bloodless exposition and the action necessary to courier it to a sating box office end game.
Summit Entertainment via Everett Collection
No one in this story about "being yourself" feels at all like he or she has a self to be. Run through the gears of a world too insistently mechanical to evoke anything real (despite the generosity of its central "fitting in" conceit), the people end up flat, thin, and dry, never once uttering a line of dialogue that is in any way personal... or in any small way not tailored to the larger game of misguided set-up at play. Against this backdrop, a pronounced Tris Prior might have been doubly effective. But it's not some grand schematic on the part of director Neil Burger and screenwriters Evan Daugherty and Vanessa Taylor to paint a gray world behind a glimmering hero. It's just an ostensible inability to draw anything human.
There are a couple of reasons why we hesitate to call Tris a truly terrible character. The first is Woodley. With so little to work with, she is, admittedly, good. Her action carries weight, her tears beget ours, and we do actually root for her to come out okay. All of the charm we're accrediting to Tris is Woodley's doing, and we know from past turns that with a better script in her hands this rising star could do wonders. The second is that, in outline form, Tris might be the best YA heroine we've gotten lately. Her decisions stem from a drive for independence and personal fulfillment. True, her primarily relationship is with a brooding jock, the unfortunately named Four (Theo James), to whom she plays the eager therapist more than anything else. But she also has a somewhat empowering bond with her mother (Ashley Judd) and an admittedly under cooked but at the very least occasionally present rapport with faction-mate Christina (Zoe Kravitz). So... something.
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Without a real character in which to root these small victories, though, they amount to very little. Just additional slices of the soulless, joyless, mindless deep dish pie that is this movies. But Chicago's dystopian fiction fails the same way that its pizza does: over stuffed with empty calories and lacking any recognizable flavor.
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Shailene Woodley has been cut from The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but she doesn't have to worry too much. Rather than simply falling in love with a superhero, she gets to be her own superhero of sorts in the upcoming Divergent.
Divergent is the latest among the slew of young adult adaptations hitting theaters. It's based on the novel of the same name and is set in a future dystopian Chicago where society is divided into five factions: Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), and Erudite (the intelligent). All 16-year-olds take an aptitude test to determine which faction they fit into, but Tris Prior (Woodley) doesn't fit into just one. She is Divergent, and she must never tell anyone. But when she discovers a conspiracy to destroy all members of her species, she must find out what makes being Divergent so dangerous before it's too late.
The film co-stars Theo James, Kate Winslet, Tony Goldwyn, Ray Stevenson, Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer, Jai Courtney, Miles Teller, Zoë Kravitz, Ansel Elgort, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Ben Lamb, Christian Madsen, and Amy Newbold. It opens on March 21, 2014.
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After being in talks for months, Kate Winslet has been confirmed to star in Divergent, Summit Entertainment announced on Thursday.
Based on Veronica Roth's bestselling YA novel, the movie is set in a dystopian future where society divides people into five factions based on personality. Shailene Woodley plays the young protagonist Beatrice "Tris" Prior, who is classified a "divergent," a rare, dangerous classification, and is told she will never fit into any specific group. She leaves her family back in the Abnegation (selfless) faction to join the Dauntless (bravery) faction, and uncovers a conspiracy to destroy all "divergents" and start a war between factions. She must find out why she and others like her are considered so dangerous before it's too late.
RELATED: 'Divergent' Finds Its Love Interest in Theo James
Winslet will portray the villain of the series, the cold, calculating leader of the Erudite (knowledge) faction, Jeanine Matthews. Directed by Neil Burger, Divergent also stars Theo James, Jai Courtney, Maggie Q, Zoe Kravitz, and Ansel Elgort.
James will play Tobias "Four" Eaton, a man with a mysterious past and Tris’s intense, charismatic instructor of the new Dauntless initiates and one of the leaders of the faction. He is her ally and love interest as they try to stop a war together.
RELATED: Jai Courtney Joins 'Divergent': Who Will He Play?
Courtney will play Eric, one of the Dauntless leaders and an enemy of Four. He is described as having many piercings and long, dark, greasy hair, with cold eyes that made him all the more menacing, scabbed-over knuckles, and a wicked smile. He is excessively cruel and makes life for Tris as hard as he possibly can.
Q will play Tori, the owner of a tattoo parlor in Tris’s chosen faction, Dauntless, and is part of the choosing ceremony that divides people into factions. She ends up as Tris’s ally. Kravitz will play Christina, a member of the Dauntless faction and who becomes friends with Tris. Elgort will play Caleb, Tris’s brother who turns his back on his family in the Abnegation faction, like Tris, to become part of the Erudite faction.
RELATED: 'Divergent' Star Shailene Woodley Queen of YA?
Aaron Eckhart, Ray Stevenson and Miles Teller are also in talks to join the cast.
Divergent hits theaters March 21, 2014.
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[Photo Credit: Andrew Medichini/AP Photo]
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Divergent has finally found its love interest. Golden Boy's Theo James has just been cast to star opposite Shailene Woodley as "Four" in the film adaptation of Veronica Roth's young adult fiction bestseller.
The movie is set in a dystopian future where society divides people into five factions based on personality. Woodley plays the young protagonist Beatrice "Tris" Prior, who is classified a "divergent," a rare, dangerous classification, and is told she will never fit into any specific group. She leaves her family back in the Abnegation (selfless) faction to join the Dauntless (bravery) faction, and uncovers a conspiracy to destroy all "divergents" and start a war between factions. She must find out why she and others like her are considered so dangerous, before it's too late.
A man with a mysterious past, Tobias "Four" Eaton (James) is Tris’s intense yet charismatic instructor of the new Dauntless initiates (those who chose Dauntless and were not born into it) and one of the leaders of the faction. In lazier storytelling, Four's character could have wound up just as romantic fodder for the protaganist, but in Roth's brilliantly-written novel, he has a compelling history with his own shocking secrets that come to light, and he shares the spotlight with Tris. He is more her ally than her love interest as they try to stop a war.
Other YA love interests, perhaps the best-known are Twilight's Edward Cullen and The Hunger Games' Peeta Mellark, spend their entire journey in the books/movies constantly trying to save their love's life. Sure, they may have interesting back stories but their main goal is always saving or protecting their girlfriend. Four has so much more to him than just being Tris's hero and savior. In fact, most of the time he stands back and lets Tris save and defend herself, instilling the brave and fearless values that the Dauntless faction teaches. Tris and Four don't let their relationship take priority over what needs to be done.
RELATED: Jai Courtney Joins 'Divergent': Who Will He Play?
In a joint statement, Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger, Co-Chairmen of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group, said, "Theo is not only an incredibly talented actor, he is also who we envisioned as Four when reading Veronica’s novel which has taken the world by storm. As we continue to develop the film, the studio remains committed to providing fans with a movie adaptation that stays as true to the book as possible and we are confident that we have done so with our selection of Shailene and Theo in the leading roles."
"We took our time to find the right actor to fill the role of Four, and Theo is definitely the perfect fit," said Erik Feig, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group’s President of Production. "Veronica has crafted a truly iconic character in Four and we cannot wait to begin production and bring him and this story to life for millions of fans around the world."
James joins the film – directed by Neil Burger – along with previously cast Woodley, Jai Courtney, Kate Winslet, Maggie Q, Zoe Kravitz, and Ansel Elgort. Kate Winslet, Aaron Eckhart, Ray Stevenson and Miles Teller are also closing deals to join the cast, Deadline reports.
Divergent hits theaters March 21, 2014.
Follow Sydney on Twitter: @Sydney Bucksbaum
[Photo Credit: Scott Gries/Invision/AP Images]
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The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.