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Movie Review: INSURGENT

Insurgent

Directed By: Robert Schwentke

Story By: Veronica Roth

Screenplay By: Brian Duffield, Akiva Goldsman and Mark Bomback

Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Ansel Elgort, Miles Teller, Jai Courtney, Mekhi Phifer, Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Zoë Kravitz, Maggie Q, Daniel Dae Kim, Keiynan Lonsdale

 

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With a new director on hand for this sequel to Divergent, I was a bit wary of how Insurgent would hold up. We’ve seen film franchises switch directors before (Harry Potter) and those films have different feels to them. After watching Insurgent, however, I can honestly say I’m pleased with the result. Robert Schwentke, who also directed The Time Traveler’s Wife, took the world that Veronica Roth envisioned and Neil Burger, the director of Divergent, created visually and simply built upon it. We got to see more of the other factions, as Tris, Four, Caleb and Peter seek a temporary safe haven while devising a plan to find the rest of the Dauntless members to help take down Jeanine.

Summary: Insurgent begins with Tris, Four, Caleb and Peter trying to adapt to life in Amity while Eric, Max and Jeanine’s other minions uncover a box inside the Prior home in burnt down Abnegation. This box can only be unlocked by a Divergent who is able to successfully complete sim trials from each faction. As they begin testing for divergence, Peter attempts to hand Tris, Four and Caleb over to Eric, but they escape Amity and head for the city. They jump onto a train in the escape and quickly discover that the train is overrun with Factionless, who have no sympathy for the fugitives…until Four reveals that his name is Tobias Eaton. He’s taken to the leader of the Factionless, Evelyn, who turns out to be his mother (and believed to have been dead). She wants an army, but Four doesn’t trust her, even though she informs them that the remaining Dauntless members have sought refuge at Candor. Four, Tris and Caleb set out for Candor to find them, but Caleb decides he’s not cut out for it and claims to head back to what’s left of Abnegation. Jack Kang, leader of Candor, agrees to perform trials to prove their innocence under the influence of truth serum. Four is absolved of all guilt, while Tris is forced to come clean about killing her friend, Will, in order to save herself. Everyone in Candor is shot by Jeanine’s minions with a serum that attaches itself to their bodies and Four is forced to battle Eric. They gain the trust of Candor and everyone realizes Jeanine had been lying to them about the attack on Abnegation. When the serum activates and forces Marlene to step off a ledge, plunging to her death, Tris makes a choice to surrender to Erudite in order to save the others. Loyalties are questioned and she’s forced to complete the sim trials, with action packed sequences that keep you on the edge of your seat. Once the box is unlocked, it reveals a message from the founders informing everyone that their world/faction system was an experiment and that Divergents were proof that the system worked. The woman invites everyone to venture outside the wall so they may rejoin society. Jeanine demands that the box be buried and that Tris and Four be executed, but the Dauntless/Factionless army arrives and they take Jeanine and her minions into custody. Upon releasing the video to the public, all of the factions gather and head for the wall to see what awaits beyond it. Evelyn faces off with Jeanine in the closing scene.

For those viewers who have read the books, you will definitely notice some significant changes in the film adaptation. For one, Tris doesn’t struggle with holding a gun as she did for most of the novel. The mystery box was also a major plotline which doesn’t exist in the novel, so fans that have seen the trailer might have been a bit confused. After seeing the entire film, though, I have to admit that this was a decent change! Viewers have to keep in mind that some plotlines need to be changed in order to keep the film at an appropriate length while keeping the main idea of the story intact. Despite the addition of the box, there are small details from the novel that they kept in the film, which definitely saves it from being a flop. With the addition of several characters who weren’t introduced yet in the Divergent film, we have the luxury of seeing a cast that has a great deal of chemistry with one another. Each actor plays their character to perfection, especially considering our ideas of the characters from the books. For those who are loyal fans of the series, try to keep an open mind to the changes made in the film. I tend to be disappointed when this happens, but, in this case, I think they handled the changes well and everything flowed nicely. Give it a chance!

Production value was great as well. On occasion, the special effects weren’t the greatest, but as a whole, the bigger budget for Insurgent paid off. The soundtrack, for me, was a bit lack luster compared to that of Divergent, but with everything else going on, it didn’t take away from the film in any way.

As a fan of the books and the first film, I definitely give this sequel a 5 out of 5 stars. – Kristin (@kristin0409)

Insurgent hits theaters on March 20 in 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D formats.

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Movie Review: CINDERELLA

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Directed By: Kenneth Branagh

Screenplay By: Chris Weitz

Starring: Helena Bonham Carter, Lily James, Richard Madden, Cate Blanchett

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There are many similarities between this live action adaptation and the 1950 animated version. This film begins with a glimpse into young Ella’s life before both of her parents passed away. They instilled in her the importance of being kind and believing in magic. With both of her parents dying (at different stages of Ella’s life), the film’s cheery opening takes a darker turn. When her stepmother, Lady Tremaine, and her wicked daughters learn of her father’s death, they begin to treat Ella horribly. One of the main differences in this film is that we also get a glimpse into the prince’s life and his relationship with his father, the King. Upon meeting Ella in the forest one day, the prince (Kit – who Ella believes to simply be an apprentice) urges his father to have an open invitation for all available women to the royal ball. While his father and the Grand Duke insist that he marry a princess for advantage, Kit just wants to see Ella again. When Lady Tremaine forbids Ella from attending the ball, she receives the bippity boppity magic from her fairy godmother and sets off to find her friend, the apprentice. When she arrives, the prince dismisses the woman chosen for his first dance, and invites Ella, revealing his true identity as the prince. They quickly fall in love as he shows her the palace grounds and she runs off at the stroke of midnight before the magic wore off, leaving behind the famous glass slipper. For whatever the reason, even when the magic wears off, the glass slippers don’t return to their original form. Either way, Ella hides the remaining glass slipper under the floorboard in the attic. Kit’s father grows ill and, after seeing his son’s love for Ella before passing away, tells him not to marry for advantage and instead, to marry for love. They arrange a kingdom-wide search for the girl whose foot fits the forgotten glass slipper. When Ella hears the news, she runs to the attic to find the one she hid, only to find Lady Tremaine holding it in her hand. Realizing it was her at the ball, she locks Ella in the attic, but when Gus Gus and the mice unlock the window, the royal entourage hears Ella singing and realizes there’s another woman in the home. The prince reveals himself and is reunited with Ella, an honest country girl who loves him. The two are married and live happily ever after, as we all know.

The subtle changes and additions to this adaptation were welcomed because seeing Ella with her parents gave a bit more of a back story to her relationship with them and the struggle she faced in order to be kind to Lady Tremaine and her minion daughters. Seeing a bit of the prince’s relationship with his father was also a great addition. The casting in this film was excellent and even though they didn’t cast a well known starlet to play Cinderella, Lily James truly delivers. Her chemistry with Richard Madden was noticeable and adorable, and Cate Blanchett was the perfect person to play the evil Lady Tremaine.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with this film. I thought the dresses at the royal ball could’ve been a bit nicer, but I suppose they were borderline hideous in order to make Cinderella’s beautiful blue gown stand out even more. As mentioned, the casting was great, the chemistry between the characters was excellent and the overall production of the film was beautiful. I can honestly say I give it 4 out of 5 stars. – Kristin (@kristin0409)

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