Gemini

Gemini is a movie I actually knew about before watching! I swear! I heard of this one!

I saw the trailer, once, and it had an electro-noir feel. That will either make a lot of sense, or it won’t. And that is okay, because genres can get real weird. I just learned about post-postmodernism and hysterical realism! Not what they mean, just that they are genres that more than one book or art work fit.

Gemini is definitely a much lower budget, indie movie with one or two recognizable stars in it. It is the type of film that has to rely on a good story to actually get people to watch it, and not warm celebrity smiles.

Love
See? No smiles. Just blue tones and glares.

Jill LeBeau (Lola Kirke) is the agent, PR firm, best friend, and potential lover of big Hollywood actress star, Heather Anderson (Zoë Kravitz). Heather is a big star. Everyone wants her. The paparazzi. The fans. The studios, the writers. All of them can’t get enough of that Heather. And they have to get through Jill to get to her.

In these trying times, Heather is going through a lot, including a break up through her celebrity boyfriend. People really just want to find out why and get in her business, putting her in a more reclusive mood. Jill cannot protect her either, but she can just try to make her feel comfortable.

After a night of drunken shenanigans and loneliness, Jill gets to her bosses house the next day and finds her lying dead on the ground on her own home. And all of the evidence points to Jill. But Jill couldn’t kill her boss, her best friend, her maybe lover, could she? No! There were people who might have done it. Angry writers, obsessed fans, down on their luck paparazzi, all of that.

No, Jill isn’t going to go on some pseudo investigative hunt to find the real murderer. But she is going to ask questions and try to clear her name while wallowing in self pity.

Also starring John Cho, James Ransone, Greta Lee, Michelle Forbes, Nelson Franklin, Reeve Carney, and Ricki Lake.

Ghost
“No, her future ghost is the murderer!”

For the most part, while watching Gemini I just thought it was an average story pseudo-thriller. The soundtrack resonated throughout it, a sort of techno pulse that was going and going. It reminded me of Good Time, but that is a movie about a guy on the run and it sort of earned that score. This one was way less hectic and just seemed off to me.

Don’t go into Gemini thinking it will be a classic whodunit film where the viewer can follow the clues and pick out the murderer along with our “Detective.” No, it is not one you’d be able to pick up from clues, because there aren’t really any clues, just assumptions and you have to sit and wait for the ride to end before it is fully revealed.

And unfortunately when I was almost done off the ride, the cart went off the rails and left me in the gutter. This is a long metaphor to describe the film, and I don’t apologize for that. The ending is downright terrible. I feel so disappointed in following the story of this film. It was never great or above average even. Just okay. But the ending cost it points and put it clearly as a film I don’t need to see again, nor would I recommend.

1 out of 4.

The LEGO Batman Movie

If you are new here, I have rallied against animated films so far this year. We just had a summer with Cars 3 and Despicable Me 3, both incredibly bad to super bad films. And these are our tent pole films for the year more or less!

There is very little hope of animated films saving it by the end of the year, but I openly acknowledge that I had not yet seen The LEGO Batman Movie. I know a lot of people enjoyed it, our first LEGO movie since The LEGO Movie.

But I am one of the people who only gave The LEGO Movie a 3 out of 4, it was no where close to being my favorite animated movie of the year, but it was quality and hilarious, I give you that. Despite that, I was never looking forward to this movie. I was disappointed to hear it as a sequel.

I want some new original LEGO content, not relying specifically (mostly?) on pop culture content from a single established franchise. I also acknowledge that the previous LEGO film was FULL of pop culture content, but it wasn’t entirely. This just feels…well, unoriginal.

Robin
Now that brightly colored chap, he seems like a great way to take any brooding franchise.

Ah yes, Gotham, city of villains and crime and 1 super rich dude and some vigilantism. Batman (Will Arnett) is the best and everyone loves him! But he lives a life alone, mostly hanging out in his house, sometimes interacting with Alfred (Ralph Fiennes). But you know, just being a lone with all his money, cool gadgets, and lobsters.

He is still really good at fighting crime though, and even when the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) gets a shit ton of villains to work together to blow up the city, Batman still stops them. Even worse, Batman refuses to acknowledge the Joker as his greatest villain, his foil, his reason for Batmanning. So now the Joker feels bad. Batman just shuts the door on everyone!

However, with a new commissioner in Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), they are going to focus less on Batman and more on actually catching these bad guys who still terrorize the streets. And you know, maybe focus on getting them fixed instead of just imprisoned. And shit, it starts to work, so Batman has even less to do and no one to hang out with in his increased downtime. Except for Dick Grayson (Michael Cera), whom he accidentally adopted.

Of course eventually some stuff happens and things get really bad, but Batman has to learn to work with others if he is going to defeat this new threat!

Featuring an incredible slew of famous people doing extremely minor voices, because YOLO. Seriously, most of these people have like, 1-2 lines, or grunts, or one scene.Again most, there are like two people thrown in here who have slightly more lines. Totally pointless for the most part still, so, whatever. We got Adam DeVine, Billy Dee Williams, Channing Tatum, Conan O’Brien, Doug Benson, Eddie Izzard, Ellie Kemper, Hector Elizondo, Jason Mantzoukas, Jemaine Clement, Jenny Slate, Jonah Hill, Kate Micucci, Mariah Carey, Riki Lindhome, Seth Green, and Zoe Kravitz.

Joker
And just think, that wall of text is just the famous people you know who did voices.

Right away in the film, we get introduced to the Joker and his plans to take over Gotham once and for all, with a giant team of villains on his side, which are all presumably real Batman villains. Action, fighting extreme. I was shocked it happened so early, but since this film mostly deals with Batman’s loneliness, we needed to just get him doing Batman stuff, so we could see him existing waiting to do more Batman stuff.

And that part was just…okay. It didn’t connect with me on an emotional level or anything, because this is a film focused on comedy, so it went for quick jokes instead. And to contrast the opening, the ending is long and even more action packed. Even more villains, many more than you’d expect in a Batman movie, and explosions, and action and…

Being overwhelmed. That is what this movie felt like. It went to the extremes early on, then it went to the extremes in the end. In the middle, it is mostly lowkey, plot stuff. My body didn’t enjoy the “rollercoaster”. It failed to find a middle ground, and frankly, basically all of the action felt so excessive that it was not enjoyable from my point of view.

The best parts of the film were just Batman interacting with Robin and Barbara, regular dialogue for regular jokes. But the majority of the plot was off, along with my earlier complaint. It was an okay film when it comes to entertainment, but not one I am rushing off to buy and talk about over and over, like The LEGO Movie.

And now, also this year, we have The LEGO Ninjago Movie? This is based on their own IP, so hopefully they stick to their own stories to give a good film and don’t rely so heavily on other franchises pop culture references.

2 out of 4.

Allegiant

The official name for this film is not Allegiant, but The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Part 1, and that is down right terrible for a few reasons.

One, the first movie was called Divergent, not The Divergent Series: Divergent. You knew there would be more movies, you shouldn’t try to change the series names after you have already started.

Two, I didn’t name my review for the second one The Divergent Series: Insurgent, I just did Insurgent like a sane person.

And three, of course they took the third book of a trilogy and split it up. It will make them more money, regardless of how much it hurt the product (see Mockingjay Part 1 and Part 2). But they have absolutely no reason to throw “Part 1” at the end of the title. You know why? Well, the title of the fourth movie isn’t even The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Part 2. It is The Divergent Series: Ascendant. There is no Allegiant – Part 2 officially, even though the fourth and final film is the second half of the Allegiant book.

What a fucking clusterfuck of a titled series.

Group Shot
Thankfully we have teenagers with attitude to save us.

At the end of the first film, I thought out gang was leaving the walled city of Chicago behind, to advance the plot. I was wrong, they just went to the woods outside of Chicago. At the end of the second film, I thought everyone was leaving the walled city of Chicago behind, unified and scared, to advance the plot. I was wrong there too apparently.

Right away, Evelyn (Naomi Watts) now in control, decides it is best for the gates to be sealed and everyone be locked in. Security is ramped up and there to be trials for everyone on the losing side. Mentally at this point, I was about to throw my pen at the screen and walk out. If they don’t ever leave Chicago I will freak out.

Thankfully, I guess, our small crew of characters still wants to break out and see the world. Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), Peter (Miles Teller), Christina (Zoë Kravitz), Caleb (Ansel Elgort), and Tori (Maggie Q). This makes them traitors, so Evelyn has Edgar (Jonny Weston, our wannabe Jai Courtney) to hunt them down.

So what’s on the other side? Well, a lot of desolation. Some war shit happened. Nukes and all. But they are found by the Bureau of Genetic Welfare, a scary sounding company for sure, who let’s them know that Chicago was an experiment and more secrets about the world. I will let them stay secret. It is led by the director (Jeff Daniels), who is happy for Tris being Divergent, because it means their experiment worked!

Tris is now a hero who will save the world, and maybe save the impending war in Chicago. The remaining crew are working surveillance and security for the BGW while she has all the fun.

Returning actors include Octavia Spencer and Daniel Dae Kim. New people are played by Nadia Hilker, Andy Bean, and Bill Skarsgård.

Bubbles
The future is so weird and full of fucking CGI.

I have a lot of problems with this film and I have to get specific to let you know some of the things that really irked me. So there will be spoilers, arrr. But here is what it has to boil down to: the writers. No, I don’t mean Veronica Roth, the writer of the book. I don’t plan on ever reading them, but I have heard the final book is terrible. So maybe the studio agreed, because they hired three people to write the screen play, Bill Collage, Adam Cooper, and Noah Oppenheim. The first two co-wrote The Transporter Refueled (sigh, with Luc Besson) and Exodus: Gods and Kings among other things, and Oppenheim was one of three people on The Maze Runner.

They do not have the best credentials behind them, but more importantly, none of them worked on the previous two films. So not only did they apparently stray away from the source material of the books, but they collectively just went off the rails with no regard for continuity, characters, or sensibility. This movie is, dare I say, stupid. A childish word not meant for a serious movie review like this one, but the only one that really fits. Scenes are loosely connected by the plot, but with people who seem to not remember the past in any way shape or form.

All of my best actions seem to be about Four and when he gets to the Bureau so let’s just use him. He is put on security, told it will take him a long time to get used to the new future tech before he can go on missions. He figures it all instantly, of course, he was a fantastic fighter dude. He wants to go on the next mission, is told no, but like in a “No, wait don’t do it, no” apathetic way. Literally no one tries to stop him doing anything. Getting on the space ship, interacting with the natives, seeing what they really do with the natives. There was no resistance at any way, as the writers didn’t even know what they were doing.

While on the mission, he is yelled at by a commander who thinks he shouldn’t be here because he is too new and should stay out of trouble. You know who is sitting two seats away from him? Fucking. Christina. Also from Chicago. No way as good of a fighter as Four. But apparently she also did everything in the short amount of time (despite barely acknowledging her once they arrive), can also go on missions, and is given no shit. Hell, she even gets to interact with the natives and let Four know what is up, in front of everyone, and no one still cares. It was terrible to watch as the film was full of these tiny -> big inconsistencies.

Redcamo
But hey, at least the camouflage makes sense for this film!

This happens to be the type of film where 90% of the problems would be solved if the main characters would just actually talk to each other. Of course, lazy writing prevents this, turning it into a lame RomCom, without the Com and very weak Rom.

And really what really boils my corn is the ending. Look back at my description of how the first two films ended. This one ends with everyone ready to leave the walled city of Chicago behind, unified and scared. What makes me so upset about this ending is that it is almost exactly the same ending as the second film. Sure, things happen in this film, but outside of some knowledge gained, every single relevant person is in the exact same position they were a movie ago, totally going to do the things they promised to do this movie. Shit. This film series is like a horrible time warp, making me relive the leave Chicago plot over and over without ever really getting to do so.

I fully expect the final film to begin with everyone collectively breaking their legs, so that they all have to stay in Chicago for the whole film. That is the level of quality of writing I have come to expect from this franchise and next summer cannot come soon enough so that it can finally be over.

0 out of 4.

Dope

Sometimes when I like to pretend that I am cool, I use words like Dope and Chill. I will admit, when I first saw the screening listing for Dope, I honestly got it confused with the Straight Outta Compton movie coming out, figuring they renamed it for some reason. (How White am I? I spelled that first “Straight Out Of Compton” because I really didn’t know).

I mean, could there really be two movies about black youth in California, despite being very very different topics, in the same summer? It is strange to say but it is actually hard to believe that.

But I am excited. I am all for diversity in my movie watching. And since I know absolutely nothing about Dope going into it, I feel kind of excited at what it might be about. Hopefully the references aren’t too hip for me.

Gang
The trio is basically a themed gang from The Warriors.

When the movie started, I knew I was immediately wrong with any preconceptions I had. I honestly thought it would be set in the early 90’s on the poster alone, but it is actually a modern day movie about some kids who just really liked the 90’s music scene.

Malcolm (Shameik Moore), Jib (Tony Revolori, of The Grand Budapest Hotel fame) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) are loaner geeks who have banded together to form a friendship. They are from a generally poor neighborhood and don’t really want to become gang bangers selling dope and going to jail. So they start a punk band and avoid getting into trouble to get into college!

That is until the night of Dom’s party (Rakim Mayers aka A$ap Rocky (I don’t know what to call him?)). Sure it may seem strange for them to go to a party of a thug dope dealer, but they want to live a little bit during their senior years before it is too late. Plus, Nakia (Zoe Kravitz) promised to dance with Malcolm if he showed up.

I don’t know what they expected, but the party of course was full of drugs, booze, and hot tunes (I could rap, probably). They have a pretty awesome night! Until the cops show up, raid the place, and the next thing Malcolm knows, his bag is full of drugs and a gun that he doesn’t notice until the next day at school. Yeah boyyy. Now he has to deal with this dope, not knowing who to trust with the information. Sketchy phone guys? Some mysterious AJ? Sell it on his own? Shit, he has Harvard to try and get into. And he doesn’t want to go to jail so dang close to getting out of the hood!

Also featuring the talents of Chanel Iman, Quincy Brown, Roger Guenveur Smith, Blake Anderson, and some narration by Forest Whitaker.

Donuts
Please be a punk song about donuts. Please be a punk song about donuts.

Dope is the first movie I have seen from director Rick Famuyiwa, who also was the only writer of the movie, and if his past films are of any comparable quality then I should probably check some of them out. It should also be noted that the main producers was also our narrator, Whitaker, and an executive producer was Pharrell Williams. So despite its relatively unknown cast, it had some star power behind it. Although it should be noted, the narration was only at the beginning and felt quite excessive and unnecessary. Didn’t match the rest of the film.

But let’s go back to that cast. I was personally happy to not recognize any of the main characters (outside of the Lobby Boy). For our lead, the only movie or show I would have seen him in was Joyful Noise, where his character name was “Our Lady of Perpetual Tears Choir Master”, so I can’t even tell you if he had a speaking role. Moore blew me away, in all honesty. Everything about him felt sincere and real. Moore conveyed so much throughout the film through facial expressions alone, which is especially helpful since he didn’t play a smooth talking confident character for the most part. He was relatable and he was awesome.

The film was also surprisingly up to date with current technologies and they do a good job of introducing concepts that not a lot of people know about. Dark web stuff. It makes a lot of sense that this is the first movie that is allowing tickets to be bought via bitcoins.

Favorite part about the film would be just how realistic the portrayal of modern hood life is like. It isn’t just gangs, just drugs, just poverty. There is a lot of hope and a lot of people just trying to fit in. None of the characters were extreme stereotypes, providing some slightly thought provoking conversations despite the urban language throughout.

Overall, Dope is a surprisingly funny, realistic and a feel good movie that came up out of nowhere. I am not going to listen to MC Hammer today out of respect for that.

3 out of 4.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Day 5 of Yay Women Week! Wait, what. This is about MAD MAX. And how FURY the ROAD is. That doesn’t sound go power women ya ya ya at all. But hey, what do you know. You probably haven’t even seen it yet.

After all, early reports about Mad Max: Fury Road is that it actually passes the Bechdel test. So take that haters. Let’s say it fits the theme.

I admit my experience with Mad Max is slim to none. I haven’t been able to see any of the previous three movies (and apparently they don’t matter to this one either).

No, my experience with the franchise are the obvious pop culture quotes, and the NES video game. It involved driving around a barren landscape, looking for gas I think, and getting shot at by cars. In reality, it was about me playing it for like, a minute and dying and stopping. That game was hard.

Mask
“Calm down, viewer! Now’s not the time for fear. That comes later.”

Max (Tom Hardy) is pretty crazy. Mad you might say. A loner, roaming the Australian barren plains on his own just trying to survive. He lost everyone close to him. His only care in the world is his survival. You see, the world sucks now. Oil became scarce. Wars, environment, all of that collapsed society. Shit, even water is hard to find.

But you don’t need to know a lot about Max. You just need to know that he has been captured by King Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) and his army of skin head pale War Boys. He has his own huge water supply, so he rules the world. The only reason Max is able to escape is thanks to Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron). She has decided to do the right thing and smuggle the Five Wives (Zoe Kravitz, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Courtney Eaton) away from Joe, who wants to breed future war leaders.

And that’s all you need to know! Women get stolen, Max and Furiosa on the run throughout a wasteland, trying to get the ladies and themselves to safety. On their tail is several large war bands, with guns, flame throwers, bombs, and crazed thugs who are basically all suicide bombers. Here you might find some high octane dudes, like, Nicholas Hoult, Josh Heman, and Nathan Jones.

Mask 2
Metal as fuck.

Fuck fuck fuck fuck. The hype train is real. The. Hype. Is. Real.

I didn’t believe it and I didn’t want to believe it. This was my second choice to see this week after Pitch Perfect 2, and if I didn’t go to a screening I would have waited until DVD release. But I am glad I saw it on a giant screen. It helped blow my mind. Here is the thing. The acting? It is pretty darn good. Hardy and Theron were excellent as always and they were completely believable in their roles. Hoult was like an entirely different person and I would have never expected him to do so much. And hell, some of the actresses I saw associated with the film, namely the Five Wives, I felt very questionable towards but even they did a good job. It turns out that with a majority of our escape party being women, this actually fits the theme pretty well.

The plot also is a very decent one. Miller does a fantastic job at world building and creating so many unique elements to really make you realize how much effort went into this movie.

And the action. Hot damn. Most of the action of course takes place on dusty roads with armored dudes chasing each other on cars, but it doesn’t ever feel repetitive. The final chase/action sequence goes on for so long, it is probably longer than the final train scene in The Lone Ranger. And it just keeps on coming at you. Action, explosions, fighting, great choreography. I was amazed. Don’t worry, the film isn’t 100% action, there are quieter times. So let’s just say 85% action. When the action is going, it is going to 11.

I can’t even describe that enough. This is so far the best action movie of the year and one of the best of the last few years. I would say in terms of pure action, The Raid 2 is better, but in terms of extreme brutal violence, Mad Max: Fury Road is miles ahead of the competition. Man, all this bro talk, I feel like the dudes on Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle. I’m gonna go listen to Wilson Phillips.

4 out of 4.

Insurgent

The Divergent series has the honor of being the next Hunger Games series, movie wise. Even if The Hunger Games still has one more movie yet to come out. You know. Successful trilogy, third one split into two boring as fuck movies to milk more money out of teenagers. Whatever.

I wanted to like Divergent a lot more than I did. But, TL;DR, it wasn’t a completely original dystopian plot line like it made it look like. It was kind of nonsensical at points, left a lot of questions, and it ended up just being a damn high school clique movie, in its most basic form.

HOWEVER. Insurgent can be something completely different. If the ending of Divergent is any indication, Insurgent shouldn’t be a shitty high school clique movie. It should be a smarter sci-fi dystopian action movie. Class warfare shouldn’t be an issue. Just rebels vs the government. Good. This one can be a huge improvement.

Pls don’t let me down. Plsssss.

Food Fight
I was just as surprised as everyone else over the erotic lunch based three way scene.

The last movie ended with our heroes, Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), Peter (Miles Teller) and Caleb (Ansel Elgort) escaping out of Chicago and heading past the wall into the magical world of the unknown. After all, the wall was put up to protect them from the dangerous outside that had monsters and bad people and shit.

Wait a minute. Sorry. No. They just go into the forests outside of the city? Not outside of the wall? Oh…well then…okay. I guess they are just hiding out from the hippies, trying to figure out what the hell Jeanine (Kate Winslet) wants to do, now that she took out all the working class selfless people. That’s right, only four factions now fuckers. The nerds, the jocks (which are scattered and small), the student government, and the hippies. Because it is still a high school in Chicago. Speaking of those factions, we get to see things from the hippies and the student government finally. The hippies are lead by Johanna (Octavia Spencer) and the SGA is lead by Jack Kang (Daniel Dae Kim, of Lost fame!).

Either way, the plot of this movie is our heroes on the run. Not physically, because apparently it is super easy to hide from almost everyone in Chicago, despite them only using like 5 buildings for most of the population. Their GPS systems must all be out of wack. Also, Jeanine found this mystical box under Tris’ old house that her parents were hiding. That is why she killed them by the way, looking for the box. Didn’t you know that they wanted it from the first movie? (I literally don’t remember it, but it may have been hinted or mentioned). The thing is, this box has a message in it, written by the founders of the caste system. It will let them know how to deal with all these Divergent assfaces. They just need a really strong divergent to open it. Hmm, wonder who that could be…

This movie has a huge number of other people of course. We get the return of Jai Courtney, Mekhi Phifer, Ray Stevenson, Maggie Q, Ashley Judd, Tony Goldwyn, and Zoe Kravitz. But we also have new people, like Naomi Watts and Keiynan Lonsdale! Woo~

Wires
Oh, and didn’t you hear that this one featured Bieber?*

As soon as I finished this movie, I was immediately asked by people what I thought about it. And I shrugged. I didn’t know. It took me a long time to figure out exactly what I liked, disliked, and how I thought about the film as a whole.

Here is one thing I know for certain: Insurgent is better than Divergent. For sure. I had a lot to complain about Divergent. You might have heard about me doing so in my review of Divergent. But I still thought it was at least okay. So here is another thing I know: Insurgent is not good enough for me to give it a 3 out of 5, the like it category. It is a 2 out of 4 like Divergent, just a better 2 out of 4.

I was able to see this movie in IMAX, only my second movie to do so after Edge of Tomorrow, and it did feel good on the gigantic 3D screen. It had a lot of CGI based special effects going through these tests or whatever they were called and for the most part the looked pretty decent. It had more action than the first film. Real action, not bullshit “dangerous training”.

On the other hand, the plot was pretty basic. It was very predictable, especially when it came to reality versus simulation. The only wild card was Miles teller. We mostly just had teenage angst carrying the rest of the plot, so it was pretty linear. Major plot points seemed like they were added on as an afterthought (read: that box thing that wasn’t mentioned in the first film at all). And of course, this film still doesn’t feature outside Chicago, which to every one that isn’t a book reader, was pretty sure how this one would start. But whatever.

The film also still features a huge amount of confusing plot decisions and material. Maybe reading the books would fill the gaps, maybe they are shitty in the book too. Who knows. I know this is still entertaining enough to warrant a watch, but not enough for me to want to buy any of the series still or read the books. And the last movie being another shitty two parter means the franchise is probably at its high point right now. So sad. Please go back to Spiderman, Shailene.

* – Bieber jokes are still funny, right?

2 out of 4.

Divergent

Divergent, or as I like to call it, the next fucking recent young adult sci-fi/fantasy series to have taken off, has been turned into a movie. Weeee.

A lot of these lately have been terrible. Did you see The Mortal Instruments: The City of Bones? I did, it was ghastly. So was Vampire Academy. The only recent successful one of these was The Hunger Games, which had a dystopian aspect, just like Divergent, and just like this random other movie The Maze Runner later this year.

So, will it actually be a nice parallel of society? Or will it just be made to make teens feel special? That’s the important question with these adaptions.

Poster
And here is the main characters ass as promotional material.

Beatrice (Shailene Woodley) is an Abnegation tribe member. What? Okay. This story takes place in Chicago in the future, after a big war, they have built a big wall around the city. They have split members into big tribes, each having a trait. Abnegation people are selfless, run the government, wear grey, simple lives. The Amity are peaceful, hippies, farmers. Not really talked about in this movie. Candor wear white, are honest, and just say whats on their mind. Yeah, another kind of pointless tribe I guess. Erudite are the smart people, doing smart stuff and wearing blue, the smart colors. Dauntless wear black and leather, the brave, the cities police force and protectors.

Well, Beatrice is about to go to her choosing ceremony, where she picks her faction she will live in from then on. Her parents (Ashley Judd, Tony Goldwyn) are big in Abnegation, and want her and her brother (Ansel Elgort) to stay in their area. Well, during her test to see who she actually fits in with most, her results are inconclusive, equally selfless, brave, and smart. It is called being Divergent, and it should be secretive, because people don’t like free thinkers?

Well, Beatrice, now Tris, chooses Dauntless, as she always liked them. Now she has new friends (Zoe Kravitz), and has found out that just because she chose Dauntless doesn’t mean they have picked her. Of the recruiting class of like 40-50 students, half will be cut after weeks of training based on physical skill, and then another half will be cut after emotional/mental training. So only like, 10 or so people will actually make it. Yep. This movie is mostly a training movie. Ha ha! Fooled you guys!

This gives us characters like Four (Theo James), her main trainer and probably love interest. Or Eric (Jai Courtney) a much meaner training guy. Kate Winslet is a mean smart woman, Miles Teller is a mean new Dauntless recruit, and Ray Stevenson is a mean Abnegation leader.

Ninjas
And shit, this movie has ninjas too!

So I felt like again, if I had read the book, parts of this movie would make a lot more sense. Just like every other damn young adult adaption. Here are brief thoughts about my ramblings, that as far as I can tell didn’t get answered in the movie. Some are just world building questions that would have been very helpful.

How often does this choosing ceremony take place? Multiple times a year? How old are you when it happens? I guess the main character and her brother are not twins, but born close enough that they have to choose the same year? Does every faction have a long ass training process for when people join? I wonder how strict it is to train to be a hippie. Why did Tris not learn about what a Divergent is until her test, and only because she was one, but as soon as she does, it seems to be common knowledge for every other person what it is? With all the cuts the Dauntless people made, they literally only gained like what, ten recruits? How the fuck is that helpful? Did the plot really need to wait for the ten new recruits for something other than training to start taking place?

If the point of the faction system is to keep people in their place and get rid of human nature, why even let them choose what faction they live in after some random age? It seems like it’d be better to have the false notion of a choice, but in general, make everyone stay where they came from. Honestly, how does early life in other factions like Dauntless even work? Are there any parent type people there at all? It seems very messy to have people trained in a faction type for blah many years, and switch to a different faction, giving them awkward skill sets, that clearly they never lose after switching factions.

Really, this movie is literally just a high school movie, put into a Sci-Fi setting. We have cliques: jocks, nerds, hippies, normal people, and I guess gossipers or something. We have a high school girl, Tris, who feels like she doesn’t fit in with just the normal people, so she tries sports. She tries to also be smart. So she is a nonconformists, and all the conformists want to get her for being different. Or something like that. That is what the movie boils down to.

It was a cool concept, but I also feel like the writer has no idea what the fuck she is doing. Just making an interesting story and hoping it works out. There is a good chance the second movie is better, given that it will take place outside of Chicago. Wait, why is Chicago now bad? They beat the main bad guys? It should be easy to fix now? Eh, whatever.

I guess I should also note the trailer is pretty misleading. It makes it look like because she is Divergent, she joins some group of underground fighters who train her and then they attack the government or something. Nah. Well, she gets trained, but the Divergent-ness seems to be mostly pretty pointless overall.

2 out of 4.

It’s Kind Of A Funny Story

It’s Kind Of A Funny Story is, surprisingly enough, a comedy. It also stars some guy I have never heard of before. I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to fit in the trend of “Comedy movies about serious topics that might be more sad than funny”, like Funny People (which I hadn’t watched) and 50/50 (which is great). I will get to Funny People eventually, but what I have heard isn’t positive. So I really hoped this one wouldn’t be shit.

Well I mean, because I hope every movie I watch is good. I guess that was obvious.

Zach G
Oh yeah. And Zach Galifianakis.

The story begins with Keir Gilchrist killing himself. Nah, not really. But thinking about it. He is also thinking about how disappointed his family would be in him if he did it. His family (parents of Lauren Graham and Jim Gaffigan) are disappointed in him a lot, and want him to strive to be smart and get into the best schools / summer schools, to be successful.

He goes to the hospital instead (attaboy!) and tries to get help for having the thoughts, thinking he’d get a pill or something, but actually voluntarily checks himself into the mental ward of a hospital for a week. (“Oh! I get the title now…” – reader) He at first meets Zach G, who claims he is just there on vacation. He also meets Jeremy Davies, who I think is a crazy too, just a head crazy of some sort. Then again, he might just be a chill doctor. I am not sure. But what really catches his eye is another young person who is crazy hot (see what I did there?) in Emma Roberts.

Its also good to note that his two best friends are Zoe Kravitz and Thomas Mann, the former a girl who he has crushed on forever, but is dating the latter, a boy who in all accounts is always more successful than him without much effort.

The story tells of his week, trying to overcome his depression, and figure out what he actually wants in life. There are other nice stories, such as living with a roommate who is afraid to leave his bed, Zach G trying to interview to move from the ward to a group home, and other subtly uplifting things. Also the deal with his love life and what he will do after his week in the ward, of course.

roberts
Or during. Hah!

So, somehow this story, which was just enough parts funny and just enough parts aww and thoughtful, I loved. This is my favorite kind of moment, watching a movie I have known for a long time, and finding out it is awesome. Everyone does such a good job and the movie also doesn’t take depression in a zany tone.

Other patients are seen as both crazy and sane at the same time, helping the main guy on his path. It also doesn’t just wash over his issues and say “Okay he is cured! Only took him a week to cure depression guys, its not serious!” I don’t know how a person with depression would feel about this movie, but hopefully not offended.

The only other movie I could compare it too would be The Beaver, just because also about depression and kind of a dark comedy.

But you should check this one out first.

4 out of 4.