Allegiant Teaser: Beyond the Wall

AllegiantWe’ve got our first teaser trailer for the third Divergent movie, Allegiant! Dystopians so often feature very closed societies, and I’m always interested to see what happens and how the system breaks down (both internally and externally – does the worldbuilding hold up?) when the world expands a bit, so I’m looking forward to this. (Insert Game of Thrones “beyond the wall” joke here.) It was also good to get a look at Jeff Daniels, who I feel is suddenly in everything, though I guess I just mean this, Steve Jobs, and The Martian. Otherwise: Running around with guns. Kissing. General sense of doom. Basically what I look for in a Divergent movie.

Teaser Trailer: Insurgent

InsurgentWe’ve got the first teaser trailer for Divergent sequel Insurgent, which will hit theaters on March 20th. I must confess that I haven’t read the book yet – I’ll get on that soon, I swear – so I can’t evaluate the teaser as far as how it reflects the novel, but it’s certainly an arresting minute of video. Thoughts?

Movie Thoughts: The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our StarsI finally saw The Fault in Our Stars last night – I would have gone opening weekend, but I was with a friend celebrating her birthday and she didn’t want to celebrate her birthday with TEARS, which, fair enough – and thoroughly enjoyed it (though, actually, I didn’t quite cry). Let me say up front that I don’t have a lot of critical distance from this one: I know John Green (the author of the book on which the movie’s based) and want good things for him, but more relevantly, I feel like the media roar and debates within the YA community surrounding all this have been so overwhelming that I feared I wouldn’t be able to put all that out of my mind long enough to appreciate the movie for its own sake. Luckily, the movie was transporting enough to let me almost forget all that while I was watching.

Overall, I thought the movie was much better than I feared it would be. The book walks a fine line between authentic emotion and sentimentality, and it would have been all too easy for the movie to have become Generic Uplifting Teen Cancer Movie. But while the movie felt a bit more along those lines than the book – which was probably unavoidable – it managed to keep its distinctiveness via its sense of humor and insistence on not insisting that everything will be okay. And above all, I think the movie worked because it felt like the cast totally committed to the story and the characters. Shailene Woodley was great as always, and Ansel Elgort did a fine job and managed to mostly keep up with her – and, most importantly there, their chemistry was believable. Laura Dern and Sam Trammell were heartbreaking as Hazel’s parents, and Lotte Verbeek as Lidewij was a quiet delight.

There’s been a lot of discussion about Augustus – whether he’s a real character or a Manic Pixie Dream Boy, whether the way he talks is at all believable. It worked for me, because yes, he talks in an artificial way at times – but it’s artificial not (just) because he’s a fictional character, but because that’s the way a lot of pretentious, intellectual teenagers (and, alas, some adults) talk. And this ties into the larger issue of whether the movie feels “real” or “true” enough, which I think somewhat misses the point. The Fault in Our Stars is not presented as a documentary or as coming from some detached, objective third person perspective. We’re seeing Augustus, and everything else, through Hazel’s eyes. She’s a smart, funny, hyperverbal, fairly isolated kid, and she’s narrating her story.

Check Out The Fault in Our Stars’s Entertainment Weekly Cover!

The Fault in Our Stars Entertainment WeeklyThe Fault in Our Stars has made the cover of Entertainment Weekly, and it features both the book cover and stars Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort. Click on the thumbnail or right here to see the whole thing and read a bit of the cover story, including this from author John Green:

“I tried to write the funniest, most honest love story I could about these kids who were living with a difficult disease. I never thought it would popular,” says Green. “I certainly never imagined it would be a movie.”