Tag Archive: Divergent

Movies are certainly a business, but they’re also an art form. It’s understandable that the people behind them want to make money, but they also shouldn’t let their corporate greed get in the way of the film’s quality. When Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was split into two parts, most people thought that it was an understandable decision. With the book clocking in at over 700 pages, this decision seemed to be made because there was simply too much content to pack into a single movie. But now movie studios have become savvy to this idea and lately the decision to split a final installment into two parts seems to occur just so they can make twice as much money. The final installment in The Hunger Games series, Mockingjay, isn’t even the longest novel out of the three. After having watched The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, it’s clear that the decision to split this franchise finale into two parts was a poor one. Not only are moviegoers only getting half of a movie, but the half of a movie that they get is slow, boring and incredibly uneventful.

Following the events of Catching Fire, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has been picked up by members of the rebellion and brought into District 13’s underground bunker. While there, she reconnects with old friends including Gale (Liam Hemsworth), Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) and Finnick (Sam Claflin). She also meets President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore), the head of the rebellion. With the help of Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), they convince Katniss to become the face of the rebellion. They send her out onto the battlefield and film her for a propaganda video. But Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) is being held in the Capitol by President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and Katniss doesn’t want to do anything until they’re able to rescue him.

I realize that the summary that I just wrote feels very slim, but that’s literally all that happens in the movie. This is only the first act of a three act story and it’s been stretched out into a 2 hour film. Where the film begins and where it ends is essentially the same place, with only a few minor differences. If Mockingjay had been made into one film instead of two, the events that occur in this film would have occupied the first 30-45 minutes. This is the first Hunger Games film without any appearance of the actual Hunger Games and there’s hardly any action to substitute for it. This is a film that’s all about setup. While this could have been interesting, the political strategizing that’s going on here is so basic that it fails to garner any interest. It also doesn’t help that the majority of the runtime takes place in an underground bunker that’s bland and uninteresting to look at.

How long will studios be able to get away with this? We never used to see films get split into two parts, but now it seems like every major blockbuster is using this idea. It makes sense from a business standpoint, but from a creativity standpoint, it’s shallow and ultimately pointless. Maybe it’s time that moviegoers start a rebellion, much like the one that we see in Mockingjay – Part 1. We could strategize in an underground lair, before we march up to the bigwigs in Hollywood and force them to end this nonsense. We’re getting tricked into buying two tickets for a single movie and we won’t stand for it any longer. Who could we have as our Mockingjay symbol? Jennifer Lawrence probably wouldn’t do it, because I’m assuming that she’s making twice as much money from these movies as well. Maybe someone from the Harry Potter franchise could join our cause. That series is the only one to do a two-part finale well, so maybe they’re just as outraged at what The Hunger Games, Twilight and Divergent are doing. I certainly wouldn’t mind having Emma Watson as our Mockingjay symbol.

Even though this film is adequately directed by Francis Lawrence and features some fine performance (Julianne Moore is a welcome addition to the cast), there’s just nothing to get excited about. In fact, the only great part of the movie is the Lorde song that plays over the end credits. The song , entitled “Yellow Flicker Beat”, was written by Lorde and Joel Little and it perfectly captures the tone of the Hunger Games franchise. It starts off slow and quiet before turning into a kicking pop song that’s more exciting than anything in the film. Lorde is the best pop star working today; she’s just 18 years old, has only released one album and she’s already put veteran stars like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry to shame. She has such a unique voice and her songs never feel like they’re trying to appeal to the masses. Just look at a song like “Royals”, which goes against the fame and fortune that most pop songs are built upon. Lorde curated the official soundtrack to go along with Mockingjay – Part 1 and it’s good to see that the song she provided  is just as good as anything on her debut album, Pure Heroine.

It may seem like I’m getting off topic here, but that’s happening for a reason. There’s simply not a lot to discuss with this film. I can only talk about how uneventful it is for so long before I begin to sound repetitive. It feels like the filmmakers are treading water, stretching a film out even when they know that they shouldn’t. It’s just a shame that the executives in charge of splitting the movie will still get away with it. The film is bound to make millions upon millions of dollars and Part 2 will probably make even more money. So that’s why I’m calling for a revolution. Let’s recruit Emma Watson, organize our members and march to Hollywood so we can tell these producers what we really think of their greedy decisions. Mockingjay – Part 1 is the first bad film in the franchise and it’s all because somebody wanted to sell twice as many tickets.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 receives 2/4


Divergent – Movie Review

Based on the massive success of Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hunger Games, movies adapted from young adult novels are a lucrative business in Hollywood. So it’s no surprise that we’ve been seeing a lot of films featuring a young lead character attempting to overcome evil and injustice in their fantasy/dystopian world. The latest of these adaptations is Divergent, based on the novel of the same name by Veronica Roth. The producers here are attempting to cash in on the success of The Hunger Games and you can’t really blame them. Sadly, there’s no excuse for a knockoff that’s as bland, boring and genuinely uninteresting as this. Young fans of the source material may be able to find something to appreciate, but all I could do was hope that the end of the film came sooner.

In a futuristic society, the city of Chicago is divided into five factions: Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless and Erudite. Each member of these factions has a unique set of skills and personalities that allow them to fit in with their group. When a child turns 16, they are tested to see which faction they are most suited for and then that child is given the option to choose between them. When Beatrice (Shailene Woodley) goes in for her test, she is told that she is Divergent, meaning that she has aspects of every faction in her. She is forced to keep this a secret because anyone who is discovered as a Divergent is immediately killed. Beatrice decides to join the Dauntless and changes her name to Tris. Believing that her secret is safe for a little while, she begins to form a relationship with one of her mentors, Four (Theo James). But as everyone in the society continues to be placed under constant scrutiny, Tris must take action in order to secure her and her family’s safety.

Even with a narrative that’s clearly borrowing elements from already popular young adult novels, there could have been some potential for an interesting dystopian adventure. A unique society and some cool action sequences would have made most of the film’s narrative problems forgivable. But Divergent is a bore in almost every conceivable way. Due to some weak production design and cinematography, this dystopian society is never interesting to look at. Even worse, we hardly ever get a glimpse into the ordinary lives of its citizens; despite spending over two hours observing this future, I still feel like I hardly have any idea how it operates. The characters are also standard, including Tris whose abandonment of her family makes her unlikable from the start. Woodley and James do a decent job with their roles, but their romance is so forced and obviously telegraphed that it never comes across as genuine.

There are a few interesting scenes, such as a repeated sequence where Tris must confront her fears, but the bulk of the movie is spent watching her train and it’s painfully boring. Add in way too much exposition, some horrible musical choices and a plot progression involving mind control that feels lazily tacked onto the film’s third act and you’ve got one of the worst movies based on a young adult novel in recent years. Director Neil Burger brings no style or passion to the proceedings and it results in a film that refuses to end when you want it to. With three more films from the Divergent series set to be released between now and 2017, let’s hope that the sequels aren’t as unoriginal and uninspired as this one.

Divergent receives 1/4