Divergent - Lionsgate - Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD
Director: Neil Burger
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Ansel Elgort, Ray Stevenson. Full cast + crew
Of all the recent crop of young-adult sci-fi/fantasy movies about teenagers discovering how special they are, Divergent is without question the most transparent metaphor for a teenager trying to decide who they are in life and conquering fears and conformity. Its ravaged future is perhaps the silliest to arrive in the wake of The Hunger Games, but hey, even with it being obvious and goofy, it's a totally acceptable, occasionally engaging, piece of YA fiction.
The cast is good, with Shailene Woodley once again proving she's one of the most promising actors of her generation. The rest of the supporting players aren't bad, either, and together everyone elevates the silly source material by taking everything seriously. It's by no means great, but it gets the job done better than most YA movies do.
Other Notable New Releases
After its U.S. premiere at SXSW earlier this year, I declared that Oculus was the most refreshing American horror movie in years. I still stand by that, despite the fact that it seems like nobody else liked this movie about a killer mirror nearly as much as I did. It feels like the best Stephen King story Stephen King never wrote, and I wish more American genre movies had the temerity to be as interesting and unique.
Speaking of interesting and unique, that's exactly what Need for Speed is not. It's like a movie that's learned all the wrong lessons from the Fast & Furious franchise. It's too plotty and takes itself too seriously, despite how silly all of the action can get. It's also way too long.
The rest of the week is unfortunately pretty spotty. If you like offbeat comedies with very little plot or character work and you're a sucker for anything '80s, Ping Pong Summer is your jam. But if you want something genuinely vintage, go for the new Blu-rays of cult classics Without Warning and Brian De Palma's Phantom of the Paradise.
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