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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A good magic show isn't all about the payoff — in fact, it can't be. In order to dazzle, mystify, and distract an audience all the way up to the big reveal, a performing illusionist must put on one hell of a spectacle. The nature of this material can vary: For the likes of David Blaine and Criss Angel, it's all about the thrill. For Penn & Teller, it's about comedy. For Siegfried and Roy, it's about being as ostentatious as humanly possible. But all three of these ideas, dissimilar though they may be, are rooted in fun — a fact that the magician-stocked heist film Now You See Me seems to forget halfway through its run.
In fact, the Louis Leterrier movie does have a good deal of fun stocked away: its would-be central team of Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, and Dave Franco play a motley crew of dissimilar magicians who band together after a mysterious meeting to form a Robin Hood troupe of high level criminals. The group, dubbing themselves the Four Horsemen, use magic shows to rob banks and insurance companies, distributing the money to the working class men and women who have been wronged by big business (yet who can still afford a trip to Vegas and tickets to a magic show... let it slide). The team's elaborate performances make for some of the film's best material, second only to the behind-the-scenes squabbling that stems from personal rivalries and ideological differences. Eisenberg's narcissistic card trickster frequently butts heads with Harrelson's no-nonsense "mentalist" and Fisher's daredevil... all of whom look down upon Franco's sleight-of-hand street hustler.
All attention devoted to the Four Horsemen, whose origins are embedded in mystery, is charming and entertaining, thanks largely to the charisma of the players in question — Eisenberg and Harrelson haven't lost their Zombieland chemistry. Unfortunately, we get barely any time to witness this glory, as Now You See Me seems bent on lending its focus to the other side of the story: FBI Agent Mark Ruffalo's pursuit of the criminal team, and his interractions with Interpol Officer Mélanie Laurent and magic-debunker Morgan Freeman all the while. Far less engrossing than any of the Horsemen's antics, Ruffalo's journey plays out like any hot-on-the-chase summer crime thriller, with the hard nosed agent obsessing over the case, entertaining paranoid conspiracies, and alienating his colleagues and cohorts. For a movie that sells itself on its magic and its all-star cast, it doesn't really seem that interested in either, devoting far more time than necessary to the chase. Why, you might ask?
For the big twist. Of course a summer movie, and one delivered on the pretense of magic, has a big twist ending. Whether it needs, deserves, or benefits from one is another question (the answer: No). But Now You See Me seems to put all its eggs in the big reveal basket, investing a crescendoing burn to the identity of the enigmatic stranger who brought the Horsemen together. Meanwhile, it misses out on what every magician knows to be a key component of the act: the act itself. The lead-up is just as important as the ta-da. And while Now You See Me has plenty of magic up its sleeve in the form of its central tricksters, it's too focused on what's behind the curtain to enjoy the show all the while.
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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.
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[Photo Credit: Scott Gries/Invision/AP Images]
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Hit mob series The Sopranos and TV movie Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee lead the 2007 Primetime Emmy Award nominations with 15 and 17 nods, respectively.
The Sopranos is nominated for Best Drama, while the show's star James Gandolfini has been praised in the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series category for his role as mafia boss Tony Soprano. Costar Edie Falco, who portrayed Carmela Soprano, is up for the Outstanding Lead Actress award, while Michael Imperioli, Aida Turturro and Lorraine Bracco have also received nods for their supporting roles.
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee scooped nominations including Outstanding Made for Television Movie, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for stars August Schellenberg (who plays Sitting Bull) and Aidan Quinn (Senator Dawes), while Anna Paquin (Elaine Goodale) is nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress.
Meanwhile, actress Mary-Louise Parker scored two nominations for two different roles--Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie (The Robber Bride) and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (Weeds).
But the Primetime Emmy nominations--announced on Thursday--had a big shock in store for fans of Desperate Housewives, Lost and Kiefer Sutherland's 24--all three programs missed out on the Best Drama category. Instead, The Sopranos will battle it out against Heroes, Boston Legal and medical dramas House and Grey's Anatomy.
Elsewhere, hit comedy Ugly Betty was nominated in 11 categories, including Best Comedy Actress for star America Ferrera and Outstanding Comedy Series, where it will compete against Entourage, 30 Rock, Two and a Half Men and The Office.
The 59th annual Primetime Emmy Awards will be broadcast live from Los Angeles on Sept. 16.
The main category nominations are as follows:
Outstanding Comedy Series:
Two and a Half Men
Ugly Betty Outstanding Drama Series:
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series:
Extras - Ricky Gervais
Monk - Tony Shalhoub
The Office - Steve Carell
30 Rock - Alec Baldwin
Two and a Half Men - Charlie Sheen
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Boston Legal - James Spader
House - Hugh Laurie
Rescue Me - Denis Leary
The Sopranos - James Gandolfini
24 - Kiefer Sutherland
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series:
Desperate Housewives - Felicity Huffman
The New Adventures of Old Christine - Julia Louis-Dreyfus
30 Rock - Tina Fey
Ugly Betty - America Ferrera
Weeds - Mary-Louise Parker
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series:
Brothers & Sisters - Sally Field
The Closer - Kyra Sedgwick
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - Mariska Hargitay
Medium - Patricia Arquette
The Riches - Minnie Driver
The Sopranos - Edie Falco
Outstanding Reality Program:
Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan
Extreme Makeover Home Edition
Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List
Penn & Teller: Bullshit! Outstanding Reality-Competition Program:
The Amazing Race
Dancing with the Stars
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie:
Broken Trail - Robert Duvall
Jesse Stone - Tom Selleck
Longford - Jim Broadbent
Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King - William H. Macy
The Ron Clark Story - Matthew Perry
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie:
Life Support - Queen Latifah
Prime Suspect: The Final Act (Masterpiece Theatre) - Helen Mirren
The Robber Bride - Mary-Louise Parker
The Starter Wife - Debra Messing
What If God Were the Sun - Gena Rowlands
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series:
Entourage - Kevin Dillon
Entourage - Jeremy Piven
How I Met Your Mother - Neil Patrick Harris
The Office - Rainn Wilson
Two and a Half Men - Jon Cryer
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series:
Boston Legal - William Shatner
Grey's Anatomy - T.R. Knight
Heroes - Masi Oka
Lost - Michael Emerson
Lost - Terry O'Quinn
The Sopranos - Michael Imperioli
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie:
Broken Trail - Thomas Haden Church
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee - August Schellenberg
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee - Aidan Quinn
The Christmas Card - Edward Asner
The Starter Wife - Joe Mantegna
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series:
My Name Is Earl - Jaime Pressly
The Office - Jenna Fischer
Two and a Half Men - Holland Taylor
Two and a Half Men - Conchata Ferrell
Ugly Betty - Vanessa Williams
Weeds - Elizabeth Perkins
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series:
Brothers & Sisters - Rachel Griffiths
Grey's Anatomy - Katherine Heigl
Grey's Anatomy - Chandra Wilson
Grey's Anatomy - Sandra Oh
The Sopranos - Aida Turturro
The Sopranos - Lorraine Bracco
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie:
Broken Trail - Greta Scacchi
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee - Anna Paquin
Longford - Samantha Morton
The Starter Wife - Judy Davis
Tsunami, the Aftermath - Toni Collette
Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program:
79th Annual Academy Awards - Ellen DeGeneres
The Colbert Report - Stephen Colbert
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - Jon Stewart
Late Show with David Letterman - David Letterman
Tony Bennett: An American Classic - Tony Bennett
Prime Suspect: The Final Act
The Starter Wife
Outstanding Made for Television Movie:
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
Inside the Twin Towers
The Ron Clark Story
Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy
Outstanding Children's Program:
Nick News with Linda Ellerbee: Private Worlds: Kids and Autism
The Suite Life of Zack & Cody
That's So Raven
When Parents Are Deployed
Click here to view the complete list of nominations.
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