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Review: Divergent (2014)

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***THIS POST WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED OVER AT THE HOLLYWOOD NEWS ON APRIL 3RD, HERE***

Director: Neil Burger.

Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Jai Courtney, Zoe Kravitz, Christian Madsen, Ansel Elgort, Ashley Judd, Kate Winslet, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Tony Goldwyn, Miles Teller, Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer, Ray Stevenson.

Running Time: 139 minutes.

Certificate: 12A.

SynopsisBeatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) lives in a dystopian Chicago where society is divided into factions dependent on personality. When she turns sixteen, she must choose whether to stay within Abnegation for the rest of her life, or live with another faction she believes is right for her. But Beatrice is keeping a secret that puts her life – and that of her family – in serious danger.

It’s incredibly unfair to compare DIVERGENT to the YA (that’s ‘Young Adult’, to those not in the literary loop) adaptations that have come before it. But it’s almost impossible not to. Boasting a central love story, action scenes and a futuristic setting, it is considerably less saccharine than TWILIGHT, less violent than THE HUNGER GAMES and less futuristic than ENDER’S GAME. But, perhaps the most easily accessible when feeling far more of this world, it finds itself sitting rather comfortably amongst the bunch.

Opening to Beatrice’s narration (apparently a necessary YA trope), we are swiftly introduced to each of the five factions – Abnegation (selfless), Amity (peaceful), Candor (honest), Dauntless (brave) and Erudite (intelligent). Born into Abnegation, her family lead a modest life focused on helping the Factionless – homeless wanderers who didn’t make the grade elsewhere – and surviving on a low-calorie diet most Hollywood stars would be proud of. Continue reading

Review: X-Men: First Class (2011)

DIRECTOR: Matthew Vaughn.

CAST: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Rose Byrne, Kevin Bacon, Nicholas Hoult, January Jones, Caleb Landry Jones, Lucas Till, Jason Flemyng, Edi Gathegi, Zoe Kravitz, Alex Gonzalez, Oliver Platt.

SYNOPSIS: Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, Charles Xavier (McAvoy) brings together a new group of mutants including the troubled Erik Lehnsherr (Fassbender) to protect the world from its greatest threat. Initially the closest of friends, their differences soon become all too evident, opening up a rift that threatens the peace of Xavier’s X-Men and the human race.

Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass is in my Top Five films of 2010. I loved every crazy second of it and fully bought into the idea of Vaughn as a top-class action director. So after hearing the incredible reviews that were coming in for Vaughn’s First Class, my excitement was at its absolute peak – especially seeing how it managed to keep its claws firmly on an 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes for quite so long. Yet X-Men: First Class left me a little cold. And I hate myself for it. I’m not saying it’s a bad film. Far from it. My expectations were maybe just a little too high. What is alarmingly clear, however, is that Matthew Vaughn has finally got the X-Men back on cinematic track. Continue reading