One movie in the plus column and one in the… is their a column next the minus column? Like an extreme minus column? If so, it’s in there. This week I saw a novel adaptation (a novel adaptation of a novel) and a sequel (it gets no adjectives, it should just go away).

Divergent

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a teenager finds her place in a future, dystopian society after a rebellion/war tore the world apart – now teens are ritualistically sorted to keep order. Divergent and it’s inevitable sequels will be forever compared to The Hunger Games and I’m interested to see just how it turns out – on its own terms and in relationship to its big sister Katniss. Because, I’m going there, Divergent has started better. First round, Tris.

We follow Beatrice Prior, played by Shailene Woodley, as she goes through a coming of age ritual – she must choose who she’s going to be: brave? compassionate? smart? Unfortunately for Beatrice, she doesn’t really fit into any one camp. Worst, she could fit into all of them. The aptitude test labels her as “divergent,” unclassifiable and ill-suited for faction life. This test was supposed to guide her and now she has to figure out what to do while remaining hidden from a society that would label her a threat and have her killed. Fortunately, she finds a nice boy, falls in like and learns he’s just like her. They stop a sinister plot to overthrow the government and we leave them as they ride out beyond the walls of their society into the great unknown.

Much like The Hunger Games, I knew I was getting a movie that was meant to kick-start a trilogy. Unlike The Hunger Games, I had never read the book and, maybe because of this, I enjoyed Divergent on the big screen far more. I think it’s more than that though; I’m pretty sure Divergent is just a better film. We’re not constantly shifting perspectives, from pseudo-first to third, which ends up smoothing out the narrative. I’m not sure this series will end up being, on the whole, superior to The Hunger Games because Catching Fire was pretty darn good, but we’re off to a really promising start.

Grade: B+

Muppets Most Wanted

I hate this movie. What? I do! It’s a bad film. I’m not sure who the protagonists were. Were they supposed to be the antagonists? Those guys got the most screentime. The plot and the music left a lot to be desired. Some of the jokes landed, some of the performances were pretty great and yet, in spite of this, I can’t recommend anyone see this movie. Like ever. Not in a theater, not on the television. Hell don’t even bother looking for this movie through unsavory means. It’s just not worth the cost. Look up the Gulag performance (Tina Fey!) and the opening music number (“We’re Doing a Sequel”) on YouTube and call it a day.

Grade: D-

Who knows what will happen next week? Nothing particularly stands out…

Somehow in the intervening decade plus, Liam Neeson has morphed from a Jew sympathizer into a troubled dad with aggressive tendencies.

Non-Stop
In Non-Stop, Liam Neeson portrays Marshal Bill Marks, an alcoholic and otherwise troubled man. The plot for this movie is fairly straight-forward, Marks is pinned as a terrorist taking over the very plane he is sworn to protect. He is at points an unwitting pawn, pushing forward an terrifying agenda. Julliane Moore’s Jen Summers provides an interesting foil and sounding board for Marks. And though she’s supportive and trusting of Marks, she too comes under suspicion when she appears to be a bit too helpful. Marks seemingly becomes a terrorist in his search for the actual terrorists. He clears out the business class area, searches, detains and harasses passengers. He undermines his own authority as he recklessly pursues his adversary. Neeson’s performance is very good, while Moore’s is a bit flat. I really could watch Neeson play any type of gruff, troubled or tormented, anti-heroic savior. Any one that follows the plot like a hound, maiming or killing everyone that stands in the way of his singularly focused mind. He’s found a character that he excels at portraying and as long as he continues to do so, I’ll continue to show up for his movies.

Grade: B+

This week was fantastic with Non-Stop. Light on quantity but heavy on quality. I could use a few more weeks like this though the next few weeks seem light on quantity in general.