Quick Reviews: Divergent (2014, Neil Burger) & That Awkward Moment (2014, Tom Gormican)

DIVERGENT“Divergent” (2014, Neil Burger)
RATING: 5.5/10

Director: Neil Burger
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Miles Teller, Ashley Judd, Jai Courntney, Ray Stevenson, Zoe Kravits, Tony Goldwyn, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q
Screenplay: Evan Daugherty & Vanessa Taylor (Based on the novel by Veronica Roth

– In a world divided by “factions” (based on the different virtues of the people), we follow Tris (Shailene Woodley) and her struggle to fit in as a Divergent.
– I don’t know, I tried to summarize the premise of the film in one sentence but I just can’t. Maybe it’s my lack of interest for the entire motion picture and its probable sequels that even typing this review is hard. But before judging what I have to say, please hear me out. To all the “Divergent” fans out there, I understand why you love it. It’s something that you love and have followed, so it’s fine. However, I’m someone who hasn’t read the novels and I’m not sure if that plays a role in my resentment for the film. It’s hard for me to lie and force myself to like it because I really did not.
– First of all, before anyone calls me out for being a “Hunger Games” fanboy, I will admit I am. I’m also not going to deny the fact that “Hunger Games” has also been a loose “rip-off” (or whatever you want to call it) of a previous “dystopian future-like” tale. But that’s beyond the point. From here onwards, I won’t make anymore “Hunger Games” references or comparisons.
– I’ve always been a fan of Shailene Woodley, ever since I saw her back in 2011’s “The Descendants”. But her entire performance did not work for me. I just wasn’t sold on her being “tough”. As if (SPOILERS AHEAD) being “divergent” didn’t even matter in the context of her acting. She was mopping around screen like a wooden board. Theo James was even worst then her. I don’t even know where to begin with his brooding and silent performance which just felt completely empty. Winslet wasn’t anything special.
– The movie was way too long as well. I understand that time is always needed to set the entire plot up (for any movie, in fact), but after an hour, I was expecting something more. Maybe I just found everything a little bit silly. I mean, come one!? You makes passes while climbing a ferris wheel during a fake (but high-staked) war?
– One move the film did write was it’s Production Design and Costumes. They seemed like quite a necessity to define the characters of the movies, and furthermore – the factions. Visually, it looked great. And the cinematography wasn’t too bad either. The modern minimalist look in comparison to the dark undergrounds was a perfect fit.
– Sadly, this is all not enough to get me to come back and watch the second edition of “Divergent” when it eventually (and probably will) comes out. The lack of excitement I felt for this film is so big, I truly expected so much more based on the word of mouth that came around to me when I decided to watch it in the first place. BIG SPOILER ALERT: The only thing the film taught me was that Ashley Judd was still a badass…but they killed her off too. FAITH WAS NOT RESTORED.

image“That Awkward Moment” (2014, Tom Gormican)
RATING: 6/10

Director: Tom Gormican
Cast: Zac Efron, Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Imogen Poots, Mackenzie Davis, Jessica Lucas
Screenplay: Tom Gormican

– We follow the lives of three best friends as they deal with girls, sex and “that awkward moment” they all seem to be familiar with. Jason (Efron) takes the lead as he begins to fall for the vivacious Ellie (Poots), despite having commitment problems.
– “That Awkward Moment” started off quite strong. The film seemed fresh and funny, and it was great to see three of Hollywood’s promising young talents work the screen together. But after awhile, you begin to wonder where the film is going and what it really means. Is it just a string of “awkward moment” put together to make boys laugh and relate? Or is it an excuse to see three “young studs” work the screen for women to woo over? I have no idea. But if there’s one thing for sure, the movie would’ve worked way better as a min-series. Ala “Sex and the CIty” for men.
– Writer/Director Tom Gormican wrote some entertaining dialogue and fun sketches that really define what awkward moments mean, but it was still lacking. However, despite some cool artistic choices (like an upbeat soundtrack and cool yuppie  wardrobe), he is far from the MVP of the team. That would be Miles Teller. Teller, who has been on screen quite a lot since his 2010 breakout role in “Rabbit Hole” had the most heart in this performance, despite being the obvious comic relief in the trio. His storyline with Mackenzie Davis was so great, that I wish the film focused on their relationship instead. Davis was great. She stole the show from Poots (who was the obvious female lead) and provided the film was a wonderful supporting turn as Teller’s best friend and co-conspirator Chelsea.
– We all know that Efron and Jordan are very capable actors. Jordan was spectacular in last year’s “Fruitvale Station” but had crummy material to work with. Efron lacked material too, and his leading lady was horribly miscast. Imogen Poots was terrible in her role. She seemed like she wasn’t in her performance and had no emotional connection with her character whats so ever. It showed on screen.
– Despite many other errors, I feel like the film had true potential but didn’t live up to it. However, it’s still a pretty decent film. Though it won’t be remembered like other Efron-made vehicles like “17 Again”, I guess it’s still a step up from “High School Musical 3”.

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