Adding to the almost overflowing list of young adult book adaptations that are trying to capitalize on The Hunger Games and Twilight success, comes another contender in Divergent. Directed by Neil Burger (Limitless), and written by two on the rise screenwriters, Evan Daugherty (Snow White and the Huntsman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and Vanessa Taylor (Hope Springs), this has potential to be a major franchise. Based on the novel of the same name by Veronica Roth, the film takes place in a futuristic Chicago where people are divided into five factions based on their personalities. A teenage girl learns that she doesn’t fit into any of the five, instead being ‘Divergent’, which means she matches to multiple factions. She would soon discover that the seemingly perfect society has a sinister plot brewing. In the lead is Shailene Woodley (The Spectacular Now), followed by up-and-comer Theo James (Golden Boy), as well as more established stars such as Ray Stevenson (Rome), Kate Winslet (Titanic), and Maggie Q (Nikita). The trailer debuted at the VMA pre-show, and is only about a minute long, offering just a quick glimpse of what’s to come, check it out:
Knowing very little about the books, I have to say that it reminds me a whole lot of The Hunger Games. Not story wise, but simply aesthetically it looks very similar: the gray army camps, the overly colored-high tech city, as well as the fight training. Also, the recent saturation of YA novels made into films has really made these adaptations feel like cash-ins, but hopefully that is not the case here. That being said, the cast isn’t simply a bunch of good-looking stars. There are some good-looking stars that can act. Especially after seeing The Spectacular Now, which I highly recommend, Woodley has the acting chops to rock a summer franchise film like this, similar to Jennifer Lawrence. The story seems neat with a nice social commentary atop the action, but the biggest worry has to be the love story that is clearly hinted at. These types of films all have them, so fingers-crossed that it isn’t too sappy in this flick. Plus having Kate Winslet in a villainous role is always a plus.
The film is due out March 21st next year so we’ll see how it all turns out in the end. Hopefully more Hunger Games and less Twilight for the masses.
About two years since the release of The Hunger Games, it’s not surprising that a sequel is being made. Making near 700 million at the box office, fast tracking this follow up book was inevitable. Almost all the main cast returns, including the now Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence as the main protagonist Katniss. Check out the The Hunger Games: Catching Fire trailer below.
Adding to the already incredible cast from the first flick are even more incredible actors, such as Phillip Seymour Hoffman (The Master) and Jeffrey Wright, who will also be arriving soon in Atlantic City as seen in this Boardwalk Empire trailer.
While the first film, in my opinion, was paced oddly, hopefully the two Academy Award winning writers, Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) and Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3, Star Wars: Episode VII), can fix that. Also added to the mix is a new director, Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend), who’s pedigree may not be top notch, but seeing that he’s signed on to the next two iterations in the series, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 and Part 2, he must have a unique view of the worlds that warrants his stay in the franchise.
The story takes place almost right after the first film, when Katniss and companion Peeta, return home after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games. Shortly preceding their embark on a “Victory Tour” through all the districts. Sensing an uprising brewing in the districts, Katniss is pulled between the people and President Snow, the man in control of everything. With the 75th Annual Hunger Games about to commence, Katniss is forced back into the games due to the Quarter Quell, an event every 25 years that brings up the victors of the previous competitions to face off. As Woody Harrelson puts it in the trailer, “Last year was child’s play”. Hopefully that means a chance to amp up the action, and thrill of the games that I found missing in the first film. And yes, the love triangle seems to be very prevalent in the sequel.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is due out November 22.
When you combine transportation by horses, bows and arrows and swords, and small villages that farm produce and raise sheep, you would think that you’re stepping into a historical drama, possibly one from Medieval Europe. However, this is actually the setting of our future, according to one new TV show.
The much-anticipated pilot of J.J. Abrams’ Revolution (directed by Jon Favreau) was shown on NBC two days ago, and the response has been mixed. Some say that the concept of the show is fascinating, that instead of humanity being threatened by zombies or infection or alien invasion, we have to face the reality of living without electricity. Others say that everything else in the show falls well below expectations.
My thoughts? I think we have to wait and see.
I wholly agree with those who think the concept of Revolution is unique. After the scores of technological dystopias that have come our way the last several years, this idea of living off the land without electrical power is appealing. The only other time I remember seeing any idea similar to this in current popular culture was in The Hunger Games, and even then some of the Districts still had electricity.
Also, maybe it’s because I built scenery for plays during my college years, but I found the effort put into the set for Revolution to be splendid. While it’s a bit funny to see a cul-de-sac turned into a mini village with corn growing out of the ground and someone planting herbs in a broken-down Toyota, it’s also consistent and realistic with the situation in the show. It’s also terrifying to see famous American landmarks like Wrigley Field in Chicago being overcome with crawling vines. But I’m sure that’s what would happen in a world without electricity, so the image fits very well. Finally, any CGI used is not very noticeable, which can be difficult for some shows to achieve.
Small touches in Revolution really help to cement its presence into the brain as well, such as a “parking in rear” sign placed at the entrance to The Grand Hotel, now turned into a bar. A computer power symbol is cleverly tucked into the show’s logo. Charlie, the female protagonist played by Tracy Spiridakos, stores various items she has collected over the years, including an iPod, in a vintage Return of the Jedi tin lunch box. That’s pretty hard to forget, especially for all the science fiction fans bound to be watching.
Despite all of these production qualities, the script felt lacking in several points, especially in regards to exposition and background story. The pilot starts with a voice over describing very clearly the current state of affairs as we see images of the decrepit United States. I felt like I was being talked to like a child who didn’t understand what 2+2 was. Fortunately, the character voicing the lines was soon shown on screen, and he was indeed a teacher talking to a few students. Lead-ins to shows can be tricky for the writers, but this one definitely felt awkward. At another point, I was wondering why it mattered that we were watching Charlie and a few others sit around a campfire talking when the same exposition could have been revealed in a more creative manner. In addition, many of the lines are not that compelling.
My main concern was with the acting and character development. The “bad guy” did not feel intimidating to me, nor even the least bit creepy. The village doctor dating Charlie’s father felt overly grim , and Charlie herself did not seem to have the ability to show emotion other than grief or frustration. Spiridakos delivered her lines well for the most part, especially the ones where she started to cry, but otherwise I didn’t agree with her father’s character who called her “strong just like her mom.” Spiridakos may play Fallout, but despite her involvement in that digital wasteland, I did not get a vivid sense of who her character was in this current wasteland of Revolution. The only two character fates I was truly curious about were Charlie’s brother Danny, and an ex-Algebra teacher named Grace. Their stories made me care to want to see the next episode.
The Revolution pilot did end with a few twists that made me tilt my head a bit and say, “Well, that’s interesting.” The show does have promise, and I find it very difficult, if not hasty, to judge an entire series on just the first episode, especially when stories, characters, acting, and production tend to improve over the course of a show’s life. As it stands, Revolution may not actually start one on TV, but it could have a very good chance to do so with a little improvement.
Last years X-Men: First Class was a welcome entry into the X-Men film franchise, and of course, it’s going to get a sequel. Thankfully, the team behind the original, including Michael Fassbender, who played the brilliant Magneto, Jennifer Lawrence of newly found ‘Hunger Games’ fame, and Director Matthew Vaughn, who was also responsible for the kick ass, Kick-Ass, are all returning, given time for their respective schedules, to film the sequel in time for July 2014 release. James McAvoy is also confirmed as returning as Professor X, although there is no information at this time if he will be going bald. Details about the film itself are scarce, as it doesn’t even have a title yet, but it will focus on Magneto falling further down the spiral into super-villainry. All in all it’s still pretty early, and news about casting, new roles, further plot details and such are in the air, as it’ll likely be a year before any substantial updates are available.
What did the five fingers say to the face?
I especially look forward to the film, as First Class was the only film in the entire X-Men franchise that, in my opinion, carried any depth or genuine meaning with it, along with exciting, fun to watch action scenes that carried weight and gravitas behind them. The first two tried unsuccessfully to blend heady, talk heavy scenes into the film, but failed when it came to any kind of exhilarating fighting or action, and left us with a main character death in the second, that lacked emotional resonance, and ultimately ended up going nowhere interesting in the incredibly mediocre (but entertaining in a oh-man-this-is-bad way) third film. First Class finally showcased realistic uses of powers by characters who were refreshingly happy and willing to use them, because having powers would be amazing, and seeing characters unburdened by any sort of broody melodramatic guilt over the “responsibility” of their powers, was a breath of fresh air to see, especially in a genre where so many superheroes’ are so torn about having frickin’ SUPER POWERS.
So it goes without saying I’ll be looking forward to seeing some new X-Men action come July 18, 2014, because watching someone using mind powers gleefully is probably the best wish-fulfillment there is.
So last month we told you about the upcoming 5th installment of the Die Hard franchise – A Good Day to Die Hard, and we had some casting suggestions as to who we’d like to see play McClane’s son. Well now rumors are surfacing about the front-runners for said role, and they appear to have totally ignored me. But that’s fine, I’m gonna go opening night anyhow.
So here are, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the front-runners:
Die Hard 5, which is now called A Good Day to Die Hard, will attempt to find the young man to play Bruce Willis‘ son, with frontrunners Liam Hemsworth, Aaron Paul, and Ben Foster among those who will take part in chemistry reads with Willis, reprising his role of John McClane, on November 12 and 13. (We¹re hearing the part of Hemsworth’s to lose.)
So, they think that Liam Hemsworth (Thor‘s little brother and upcoming star of the Hunger Games) has the role barring a terrible screen test. I have to say, that even though I didn’t name any of these guys on my list, I’d be fine with any of the 3. And while I’m pretty apathetic towards Hemsworth, I actually really like the other 2.
Aaron Paul of course is the co-star of AMC’s Breaking Bad, and I’m a big fan, but my pick of the 3 would be Foster.