The Divergent Series: Allegiant - Part 1 - Review

PG-13  |  121 min  |  Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Review - Matt Mungle

**In theaters March 18th 2016**

SynopsisAfter the earth-shattering revelations of Insurgent, Tris must escape with Four beyond the wall that encircles Chicago to finally discover the shocking truth of what lies behind it.

Review: In the world of dystopian film franchises DIVERGENT seems to be the one series most people are adamant about. You either really love them or truly hate them. They are certainly not as popular as MAZE RUNNER and HUNGER GAMES so the need to split the final act into two films is just arrogant. The Divergent Series: Allegiant - Part 1 is fun visually but the thin script and non-engaging dialogue make it hard to get behind.

Jeanine is now gone but the atmosphere inside the walled Chicago is still volatile. Death trials. dissension, and a lack of leadership have made things go from bad to worse. Tris (Shailene Woodley) has decided enough is enough and flees the city along with Four (Theo James), Peter (Miles Teller), Christina (Zoƫ Kravitz), and Caleb (Ansel Elgort). They are in search of answers. What they find is more questions in the form of a unified city and its charismatic leader, David (Jeff Daniels). He has been watching Tris and her friends since birth and the people of this new area revere them as legendary heroes. But of course not all is what it seems.

The world that this film creates is stunning to see on the big screen. The effects and imagery draws the eye in and submerges you in a futuristic society that is unrecognizable. The gadgets and vehicles are technologically advanced and fit the surroundings. The film immediately sets up the mood and tension of those left in Chicago. For a brief moment you are encouraged about what is to unfold over the next two hours. But then people start talking and the plot gets lost in its self. It is then you realize that the only thing this has going for it is a pretty face; or two. 

Tris no doubt get's a lot of screen time in this one. We get to see her torn between her love for Four and her deep desire to get answers from David. Woodley brings a lot of depth to Tris and without it this movie would be even more ridiculous. The scenes later on between her and Daniels are the most solid. But too many holes are left unfilled and we end up not really caring about his motives and the "full picture". Perhaps they are trying to set things up for part two but why bother. They should have tried to make one solid thick film to end it instead ff trying to draw it out. That now leaves the need for too many failed attempts at witty humor and character interaction. 

Four is probably the best character to watch. He is a tough, focused, no nonsense guy. He doesn't allow emotion or favoritism to cloud his judgment. Peter is the comic relief and Teller is always able to bring that cocky arrogant swagger to a role. You certainly can't trust him but you want to hang out with him regardless. 

As far as movies go these characters are all likable and dynamic. The issue is in the things the actors are asked to say and do. They are all talented young people so the fault is not in their ability. No one can honestly deliver lines of lackluster dialogue in a way that is riveting or believable. For this installment Noah Oppenheim was brought in to help with the screenplay. We know he has skills for what he did with the first Maze Runner screenplay. So the obvious fault is in the source material. The books were not solid enough to transfer to the big screen. The franchise started when this YA genre was exploding and someone figured anything would work. Now all these years later they are discovering what can stand up and what can't. This one just can't.

The Divergent Series: Allegiant - Part 1 is rated PG-13 for intense violence and action, thematic elements, and some partial nudity. To be honest there is nothing in this one that would be a surprise for those who have seen the past franchise flicks. The violence and themes are the strongest concern for parents. Even the nudity isn't really nudity. You just happen to know they aren't wearing clothes without every seeing anything. Plus it is not in a sexual moment but more of a Silkwood shower moment. I give it 2 out of 5 gas masks. To be honest I would like to get a hit of that stuff so I can forget all about this flick.


Hello, My Name Is Doris - Review

R | 1h 35min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
Review - Matt Mungle

**In select theaters March 11th 2016**

SynopsisAfter a lifetime of being overlooked and ignored, a woman of a certain age finds her world turned upside down by a handsome new co-worker and a self-help seminar that inspires her to take a chance on love in Hello, My Name is Doris, a witty and compassionate late-life coming-of-age-story.

Review: Sally Field delivers the first award winning performance of the year in the new Romantic Comedy/Drama, HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS. Watching this film you will be reminded why we all love her so. Here we see an actress with such a wide range of emotional depth and who, at 69 years of age, can still rock the night away. 

Doris Miller (Field) is a quirky office worker who has been spending most of the last few decades caring for her aged mother. When Doris finally gets her freedom much of life has past her by. She sits each day in a cubicle adapting to the ever changing work space around her. But when the hunky new co-worker John (Max Greenfield) stirs up some fiery emotions it is time to cast care to the wind and take a chance on love. 

The film is a decent balance of comedy, drama, and romance. And none of these overshadows the other. Much of this synergy is due to Fields ability to capture the different emotions of Doris' character. She has to be funny and whimsical one minute and dramatically overwhelmed the next. All while never losing the overall dynamic of Doris. The clothes and hair help to solidify this too. She has a look and style that is her own and stands out in a crowd. It is this zaniness that bridges the generation gap between her and her younger cohorts. 

Kudos to Greenfield as well. His character John befriends this lovable older woman who, to him, is just a lot of fun to be around. He has no idea the feelings she has for him.  To hold his own against the subtle acting perfection of Sally Field is not an easy task. He has to feel as comfortable in each scene as she is. If he ever once shows any intimidation or insecurity then the whole story crumbles. 

Much of the humor comes from watching Doris maneuver through the world of social dating. She enlists the help of her best friend's granddaughter to help stalk John on Facebook. There she begins to take notes on his likes and dislikes in order to aid in casual conversation. One element to appreciate about the humor is never does it make fun of Doris. As an audience you laugh a lot with her but never at her. Too often comedies will take a character like this and write jokes at their expense. Focusing on one flaw or a social awkwardness. Here we have a person that anyone would be pleased to know. 

The writing also is grounded in reality. The drama comes from seeing a woman who is struggling with capturing a bit of the past. She is going for something that we all know is just out of reach. Are we rooting for her? Absolutely. But never do we feel like we are witnessing a fantasy. Her struggles are real and many of them we can relate to and understand. Unreturned love and infatuation is hard at any age. It is an emotion that most have battled in the wee hours of the night. So to root for this character is to root for us all. 

Seeing the modern culture and hipster generation through the eyes of a woman of Doris' age is enlightening and such grand comedic fodder. We have conformed to the evolution of speech and mindsets to the point that we fail to see the absurdity in a lot of it. So when we take a step back and look at it from a distance much of it becomes so trivial. In the end the things we think are so groundbreaking, inventive, and revolutionary mean nothing in comparison to life and living. Every generation thinks itself enlightened. That is what makes it so easy to laugh at. 

Hello, My Name Is Doris is rated R for language. It is an adult comedy but never is it sophomoric or crude. It is intelligent writing and comes across as such. If you love Sally Field it is a must see. If you don't admire her going in you will certainly adore her on the other side. I give it 4 out of 5 knitting clubs. A smart and funny film that showcases a beloved actress and a memorable character.