Avengers Age of Ultron: Movie Review

Avengers-Age-of-Ultron-PosterEver since the epic Avengers movie helmed by director Josh Whedon, which was by far, the best movie released by Marvel Studios IMHO, it comes as no surprise that fans of all ages have been waiting with bated breath for the sequel. This time around, however, instead of squaring off directly with Thanos as the Avengers aftercredit implied, the second film focused on the Ultron project, one of Tony Stark’s pet projects to beef up the Earth’s defenses against future threats.

After the Avengers successfully recovered Loki’s scepter from Hydra, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) convinces his buddy Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) to unravel its secrets in the hopes of harnessing its power for his Ultron project. Unknown to Tony, his compulsion was due to the influence of Wanda Maximoff, a woman with a unique gift for for warping reality. Wanda, along with her twin brother Pietro (who has the gift of extraordinary speed) are results of Hydra’s experiments (They joined the group because of a grudge against Tony Stark and the Avengers). Unfortunately, Stark’s good intentions backfire and Ultron literally takes a life of  his own. Now, the Avengers are left to deal with a super powerful self righteous AI set on annhilating the human race.

Avengers: Age of Ultron takes a very different approach from the first movie, despite having the same director. While the first movie was all about building rapport among a group of strong characters, the second movie seemed hell bent on destroying that rapport to build the tension for the future films. Whereas the first movie was all about comic book fun, the sequel took on a more serious route, delving into the characters’ deep seated internal issues, giving the viewers a glimpse into what makes them tick.

Its fairly difficult to balance out the star power in this movie, better yet juggle the entire thing with a very complicated plot that unfolded layer by layer. There was the part about Ultron, there was the introduction of new characters to the Avengers universe — Vision (Paul Bettany), Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). The film also had the task of setting up elements that would connect Age of Ultron to the next movies in the franchise. Scarlet Witch will appear in Captain America: Civil War. As will Tony Stark, while the Infinity Stones storyline could very well introduce a Guardians of the Galaxy crossover.

Some of the audience may get confused because the Maximoffs (Marvel fans know Pietro and Wanda as Magneto’s children) were represented not as mutants but rather as Hydra experiements nor were they referred to using their superhero names (this was due to licensing issues) but credit should be given to the casting of these new characters — I admit I had reservations about Aaron Taylor Johnson after Godzilla but he proved me wrong. The old cast also delivered on what the script called for. There was no competition for the spotlight. And that’s very cool especially this time around, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) were given their fair share of limelight despite not having superpowers.

In terms of the story, there was a lot of drama involving the perception of what is right and doing what is right. The parallelisms between Stark and Ultron was one of the major conflicts of the film. Same thing with Thor and the Cap, which was further illustrated by Cap’s almost successful try to lift Mjolnir. In essence, it challenged audiences to look at the Avengers using a different lens — one the considers their flaws and imperfections. What’s good about the approach used by the movie was that it did not go overboard like they did with Man of Steel, so it didn’t bore the younger audiences to death.

What I’m trying to say is that filmmakers did a marvelous job of balancing out all of these considerations to make a movie that works. Its totally crazy — the amount of character build up, the set up for the Avengers expansion team, the battle scenes (my favorite was Hulk vs Iron Man), and of course, the ultimate signature scene with the Avengers theme music. Considering, the final battle scene was almost identical to the New York scene in the first movie, except instead of being swarmed by Chitauri, they were being overwhelmed by hundreds of Ultron mini mes. And yet, despite or because of the familiarity, it felt right.

My mind was totally blown by the amount of fan service this movie provided. I was feeling totally overwhelmed while watching the film, as a matter of fact, there were tons of easter eggs littered all over the movie which could keep fans busy (and happy) for days, weeks, months and maybe years ahead. And the best part about it is that all of the openings the film provided will be continued in future Marvel releases and its awesome.

All in all, the best part about Avengers: Age of Ultron was the possibilities it presented. Its biggest success was in exciting fans about what’s to come. It offered a perfect transition and tied the worlds together in a seamless fashion. Sure, it was a lot to take in, but it was cool, it was pretty wholesome save for the explosions and back to back fight scenes (loved the quip about language as a nod to younger moviegoers). True, I still liked the first one better. But the sequel was a whole different animal. It was awesome it its own right. Now, to process all the nuggets this bad boy hinted at. Oh, and by the way, don’t believe rumors that this film doesn’t have an aftercredit. It totally does. Think Infinity Gauntlet. What a perfect way to geek out.

Furious 7: Movie Review

Furious 7I wasn’t able to watch Furious 7 in its first week, when cinemas were jampacked with people itching to see the late Paul Walker’s final ride in the franchise he started with his bestie Vin Diesel. Indeed, no matter how hard core this franchise is with the cool cars and the hot girls (who are badasses in their own right), it wouldn’t have been as successful without this duo. Being a fan of the franchise, I too, wanted to give Paul a proper sendoff by watching him on the big screen, along with the rest of the fandom. Better late than never, right, and what’s important is that I actually made it. I actually made it to see Paul’s last movie. His real and fitting final ride.

After taking down Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) in London and getting amnesty for past crimes, Dom (Vin Diesel) and and his crew are finally able to return home to the US. Bryan (Paul Walker) is living peacefully with Mia (Jordana Bewster) and their son Jack while the rest of the team are chilling out in different parts of the country. But it seems the idyllic life never sits well with the team as they are haunted by the events of London, when Shaw’s big bad brother, Deckard (Jason Statham) starts to hunt them down to avenge Owen’s death. But Deckard is a shadow, a former CIA Black Ops who remains always one step ahead of them. When a CIA boss (Kurt Russel) approaches the crew to give them a mission that would help them turn the tables on their enemy, they grab the opportunity without question. The next thing they know, they are involved in the rescue of a hacker named Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) and going after a highly evolved surveillance device called the God’s Eye. When their common enemies join forces, chaos ensues in the streets of LA.

First off, let me just say that Furious 7 was not a perfect movie, nor was it the best installment in the franchise. It had a lot of inconsistencies storywise and some of the characters’ actions just did not make sense. It could have been a lot different if they were not restricted by the fact that one of its lead actors suddenly died in the middle of filming and I’m quite sure that the script underwent some major revisions along the way to accommodate the handicap but at the end of the day, Furious 7 did remain consistent with the general theme of the franchise and stayed true to delivering what the fandom was expecting from the movie. I was kind of bummed to realize though that so little was left of the original team, not until they planned their next mission and the table was so far less crowded than it was for the Rio heist.

One of the issues I had with the movie was the script. In the beginning, there was a lot of talk about family and brothers (perhaps to underscore the parallelisms between Shaw and Dom or maybe because it was a shoutout to Paul whom the crew thought of as family) but towards the middle, it became kind of tedious. True, there were superb action stunts, car chases and gunfire in between but there were really times that it felt overdramatic and depressing. The brooding, nostrils flaring showdowns between baldies The Rock vs Statham, and Statham vs Dom, while on paper, seemed like pretty kickass fight scenes (which they were, up to a certain degree), the amount of time devoted to them circling each other like sharks and posturing for battle at times seemed comical, add to the fact that despite all of the damages they sustained physically, they always survived it. I mean, come on, where’s the realism in that? Leave us not forget the semi cheesy scene with Dom and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) towards the end. (I say semi cheesy because with Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez in a scene, it could never be entirely cheesy)

Speaking of realism, the order of the day for the the final FF movie seemed to be “think of the impossible and let’s just do it.” And the stunts in this movie were definitely in that category. I’m not complaining because if audiences suspend their disbelief for one second, it will help them appreciate the scenes for their genius. It was such a rush to see all of these amazing action sequences happening simultaneously and yet, each scene is given its own spotlight without being rushed or slo mo-ed too much, unlike in other movies of the same genre. It really gives the audiences an appreciation for cinema magic. My mind was blown by the amount of creativity it took to think up of things they did in this movie. And as a viewer, I really, really loved it. I liked the lighter part of the script, mostly those delivered by Tej (Ludacris) and Roman (Tyrese Gibson) which were more in line with the general vibe of the franchise.

I’m actually super glad that I refrained from reading spoilers or clicking on materials that had to do with Paul’s CGI or Paul’s tribute in Furious 7 before I saw the movie. It made me appreciate the efforts of the entire team in giving Paul the ending that he deserved. The CGI was so masterful that I didn’t know which scenes were CGI and what weren’t. I’m glad that the filmmakers brought Paul’s brothers on board for the project.

Check out how they pulled off Paul’s CGI here:

As for the tribute in the end, I loved it for its meaning. The approach was very subtle but the sincerity in the words reflected the type of relationship the FF family had developed from the beginning of the franchise. It wasn’t about creating drama. It was about sending off a person whom the franchise held dear in their hearts. And this is what made it matter.

If you want to check out the tribute, here’s the youtube version of the official music video:

And here’s Vin singing See You Again for his buddy. This may be one time you hear him break out into song aside from the Peter Panda dance.

All in all, I’m glad that this movie became Paul Walker’s swan song. It was the franchise that brought him to stardom and it was right that his final movie was made with the people he loved doing what he loved. For all its faults, Furious 7 was entertaining, and delivered on fans’ expectations. Sure, it could have been more. But it was still a good movie which accomplished what it set out to do, which was to end (?) the franchise with guns blazing.

You’re My Boss: Movie Review

you're my bossFresh from the success of her sleeper hit indie flick, That Thing called Tadhana, screenwriter/director Antoinette Jadaone returns to the big screen, this time to helm a romantic comedy for mainstream studio Star Cinema, starring two of the most bankable stars on both television and cinema — Coco Martin and Toni Gonzaga.

Georgina (Toni Gonzaga)  is the assistant vice president for Marketing of an airline company. She is driven, ambitious and is known for her bitchiness by her friends and co-workers. Reeling from a scandal borne from a broken heart, she is given the opportunity to rebuild her reputation when she is tasked by her boss (Freddie Webb) to take charge of a major partnership with a Japanese firm while he is on a two-month leave. Along with the responsibilities, her boss leaves her in charge of Pong (Coco Martin), his good natured assistant of many years. When the partnership is threatened by an unforseen circumstance, Georgina initiates a ruse to save the deal wherein Pong has to play the role of boss, and she assumes the role of assistant.

When the trailer for this movie was released, I knew I was definitely going to watch it. It’s story was not original and reeked of a Hollywood ripoff, but then again, I decided to see it for three reasons. a) It had two talented actors in the lead roles, b) It had Antoinette Jadaone directing and I was curious to see how she would fare post Tadhana and c) It seemed like a legitimate feel good romcom and I am not one to shy away from such a movie.

I don’t regret my decision. You’re My Boss, despite the corny title (seriously, they should have thought about something else) delivered on its every promise. First off, the cast was great. There was little else to do for the supporting cast but everyone gave the movie their all, in whatever capacity they could.

Kudos to the actors who played the Japanese dudes. They were hilarious especially in the basketball scene, which was my favorite scene in the movie — the extras who played the tambays not only looked the part, they played their roles really well. Toni and Coco were awesome as the main characters, but that’s nothing to be surprised about. What’s surprising was the seeming role reversal of the two. While Coco is better known for being a dramatic actor, and Toni the comedienne, Coco totally shone in the movie, bringing every scene to life with his charm and his killer smile. He had great comedic timing and his enthusiasm in embracing his role balanced out the rather severe personality that Toni was portraying in the beginning. Toni was tasked to do more of the dramatic scenes for the movie but because it wasn’t a hard core drama, no real heavy lifting was needed. This worked for the movie because the scenes just felt like they belonged in the movie. They didn’t feel forced but rather helped with the character development.

I also loved the fact that Coco, despite being known for not being as proficient in English in real life, was game enough to use this to the film’s advantage. The scene where he was being coached by Toni on how to act, dress and speak like a boss were so goofy I didn’t hear half of what was being said because people were laughing so hard at the scenes. Another favorite of mine was the texting scene. Totally LOL. You just have to see it for yourself to appreciate its genius.

The film had a lot of sponsors,I mean A LOT, but surprisingly, filmmakers were able to incorporate the ad placements into the scenes with subtlety and taste that it didn’t turn off audiences from the plug, or ruin the effect of the scenes. I liked also that it was able to advocate local tourism, and integrate the value of honesty into a very light movie to make it more substantial at the end of the day.

Simply put, it tells audiences that love works in mysterious ways and that it doesn’t matter what standards you set for the person that you want to love. What’s important is if you are willing to set those standards aside if the one who will love you is right in front of you.

All in all, You’re My Boss was an entertaining watch. It was very character driven but still had the presence of mind to incorporate some lessons about love and relationships (and even family) along the way. It was funny, thought provoking, and also surprisingly, effective in an emotional level. And for the price of the movie ticket, I could very well say that it was worth every penny.

Don’t believe me? Here are some choice scenes from the trailer to convince you. PS JM de Guzman has a cameo in this flick.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day: Movie Review

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day  movie posterAlexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is a mouthful for a title. Truth is, I had to refer to IMDB a couple of times to make sure that I got the title right because it was just so long. But my only complaint about the movie ends there. I absolutely loved every minute of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day — every cheesy over the top second of it. This movie is indeed proof that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Alexander Cooper (Ed Oxenbould) is the middle child in a family of six. Things haven’t exactly been the same since since his baby brother Trevor was born. He feels different from the rest of his family, because things always work out for them — his aerospace engineer dad (Steve Carell), his powerhouse career woman mom (Jennifer Garner), his popular big brother Anthony (Dylan Minette), his actress sister Emily (Kerris Dorsey), even little Trevor (Elise and Zoey Vargas). He feels like they lead a charmed life, as opposed to his cursed one, so on his 12th birthday, he makes a secret wish that they would get to understand what a terrible, horrible, no good, very dad day (a.k.a. his everyday life) felt like and a series of unfortunate events ensue.

If there ever was a movie that would absolutely guarantee that your bad day would turn around, it would be this one. Typical of a Disney family movie, it starts out with a simple yet fantastic premise, but one with an underlying depth that connects deeply with the audience. Such is the magic of Disney and this film delivers the good vibes in spades. Screenwriter Rob Lieber did a great job in adopting the Judith Viorst children’s book to the big screen, updating the material to a suit modern audience. There was great dialogue and flow to the film as it transitions from the misfortunes of one family member to another. Credit also to director Miguel Arteta for nailing the execution.

The cast was absolute perfection. Steve Carell was funny and dorky without being too slapstick, Jen was adorable, and even the kids worked out and portrayed the reality of siblings in a typical household. The timing was spot on and the cast had great chemistry as a unit and even as standalones. What I loved about the characters, was mainly their loyalty to each other — that despite constant insults and ribbings, at the core of all things, they loved their family more than anything and when push comes to a shove, they had each other’s backs.

All in all, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day was a total exaggeration of a simple premise — a bad day, which everyone has once in a while. While the execution was outrageous (in a good way), it was totally relatable and hilarious and leaves audiences with an exhilarating feeling of embarking on a great adventure with the Coopers. Despite all of the negatives in the title, the film inspired a lot of positive feelings, and a message that despite the bad things that happen, there can always be something good to come out it. And sometimes, it takes a bad day to make us appreciate the good ones even more.

Best of BasLex: My 14 Favorite BasLex moments from Dream Dad

Note: The show aired its finale tonight. I’m still hoping that they would announce a Book 2 but for now, I’ve updated the list to add three more scenes.

So, if you’ve read this blog before, you may already have an idea of how much of a Dream Dad addict I am, so much so that #DreamDad and #BasLex or its variation #BasLex + Baby has taken over my twitter account. There’s just something about this feel good series that really connects me to my happy place, and I just love the overwhelming sense of good cheer I feel before, during and after I watch it. A perfect stressbuster. Related post: Yes, I’m a Dream Dad addict. Here’s Why  One of the main reasons I like this show so much is because of Zanjoe Marudo and Beauty Gonzales’s unexpected chemistry. This is the first time these two have been paired romantically on screen (Remember? Beauty played Zanjoe’s mother in the movie Bromance) and it was an experimental move on the part of ABS-CBN.. Somehow, it worked, despite this being Beauty’s first leading role in a primetime series. I fell in love with the characters of Baste and Alex the first time I saw them together, and even when the show was not yet pushing their tandem, there was a charm in their rapport and friendship from the onset. Now that their love story is being played up, and now that they are officially an item (on the show) I compiled 10 of my best BasLex moments, some of which were sweeter because they were underrated. Before anything else, credit to the owners of these clips.

14. Alex’s New Look:Now, this was really tough for Alex. Being Baste’s EA, she had to plan his wedding to Angel in record time and go the extra mile. She had to wear potential wedding dresses for Baste’s intended. This time though, she was able to show a different side to her usual conservative persona and even Baste seemed impressed.

13. Movie Date: In this scene, Baste is starting to develop feelings for Alex but he is still partially in denial. This happens shortly after the mesemerized scene (one of the cheesiest scenes on television, but I actually liked it) where he asks out Alex on a movie date in the guise of it being a group date with Make (whom he does not invite). This episode actually ended with Baste giving Alex a bunch of roses which he bought from a child vendor.

12. Karate Moves: Due to tiredness, Alex falls asleep in the hospital waiting for her dad to wake up from a fainting episode. Baste tries to remove her glasses but she suddenly breaks into a karate move. The cuteness continues when Alex refuses to get closer to Baste fearing he might smell her morning breath.

11. Good Job, Baby (0:30 mark): This compilation is kind of cool because it highlights most of the BasLex moments in the team building activity Baste devised to spend more time with Alex outside of the office. My favorite however, was Baby’s enthusiasm in saying that she wanted Alex to be her mom. Such gusto for such a cute kid. The way Baste gives his approval is unexpected but totally adorbs!

10. Pa Fall Ka E: Alex is still hurting over Baste’s statement to Paul urging him to court her. Baste confronts her about her aloofness and she is forced into admitting that she was beginning to hope for something more to develop in their relationship. Baste finally acknowledges that he likes Alex and expressed his intention to compete with Paul for Alex’s affections.

9.Jacket o Yakap: In one of the most pivotal BasLex scenes, Alex tries to distract Baste from his sorrow in losing Baby to the DSWD by asking him out. They begin to talk and joke around like friends and Baste finally opens up to Alex about his real feelings about losing Baby.

8.Pag Wait, Wait (0:27 mark): In this scene, Baste and Alex have a heart to heart after their misunderstanding about their actual relationship status. This is one of my favorites because despite the fact that audiences know how in love Alex is with Baste, she is not rushing into the relationship and is asking him to wait until she is sure she is ready to make the commitment. Baste’s response is precious, as per usual.

7. Ferris Wheel: How could this not be one of my favorite scenes? This is the moment BasLex becomes official. Nuff said.

6. Trial Custody: Baste tries to establish his history with Alex by giving her a mug with the number of employees that she texted him when she was trying to get him to come back to ENS to become the company’s president. He then receives a phone call from the DSWD telling him that Baby will return to the Javier household. BasLex shares three hugs in the space of these few minutes and it was a joy to watch.

5. Reassurance: I must admit that I was one of the fans whose blood boiled when Alex was temporarily displaced by Bebeth in Baby’s life. I felt Bebeth was overbearing and insensitive to the plight of Alex, who was trying to embrace Baby as a daughter It broke my heart to see Alex suffer and Baste’s words of comfort and reassurance were the right approach to a very sensitive issue. It was good that he finally acknowledged the problem himself because he too, was partly responsible  for Alex’s situation.

4. Accidental Kiss: Baby causes some mischief on Alex’s birthday as she inadvertedly sparks the first kiss of BasLex as an official couple.

3. Proposal: How sweet is this scene? It justifies why Baste was always taking pictures on his cellphone from the very beginning and its cool to see that he’s been very attentive of all the little things that Alex has been doing for him and Baby. And to propose in the place where they had their first date? The only thing I would have wanted was for him to approach Alex’s brothers for her hand like he did with Tay Enrique. Again, who does this? A totally swoon worthy proposal.

2. Baby’s Proposal/ BasLex kiss: The charm level of this scene is off the charts. Its just so sincere and touching and beautiful in its simplicity that its perfect. The kiss was a nice touch for BasLex fans too. (video link to follow)

1. Simple Gift: While this scene happened way before BasLex was being promoted, I feel like this is a poignant moment in Baste and Alex’s love story because they were friends first before becoming lovers. Alex never left Baste’s side in all of his challenges, work related or personal and this was proof of her devotion to Baste. Its good that now, he feels the same way. Some of my runners up were when Baste gave Alex new glasses, the menudo lunch and Baste being jealous about Paul in his basketball bonding with Make. Meanwhile, I also found this fanmade clip of the BasLex love story made by wukalyn. Kudos as it sums up the kilig moments from Day 1. For fellow fans, happy shipping! To more kilig scenes to come.

Para sa Hopeless Romantic (For the Hopeless Romantic): Book Review

When I heard that Star Cinema and Viva Films will adapt the wattpad-turned besteselling Marcello Santos III novel Para sa Hopeless Romantic starring teen stars Nadine Lustre and James Reid, along with new loveteam Julia Barreto and Iñigo Pascual, I was intrigued. True, Jadine’s first two movies Diary ng Panget and Talk Back and You’re Dead, both based on wattpad fiction did not blow me away. But I was entertained because I liked seeing these two together. This time, I wanted to make sure that there was a good story involved behind the movie so I got an hold of Santos’s novel before the movie’s release.

Para sa Hopeless Romantic is a Filipino novel that revolves around the love story of six people, all in various states of being in love. Becca, the main character, an embittered college student still trying to move on from the betrayal of her first and only love by writing short stories with tragic endings; Nikko, her ex-boyfriend who wants a second chance with her because he hasn’t really fallen out of love with her; Ryan and Maria, two characters out of Becca’s short story — friends who have romantic feelings for each other but are too afraid to act on them; Jackie, Becca’s best friend and confidante, who is pining for Matt, Becca’s boss, and Faye, Nikko’s girlfriend of three years whom he dumps because is still in love with Becca.

I can safely say that I thoroughly enjoyed Santos’s novel, so much so that I finished the book in a matter of hours (in one sitting). I liked how he established the characters, and loved that he used his old school (PUP) as a backdrop for all of their adventures. Because he knew a lot about his subjects, he was able to effectively describe the settings and moods and set the tone for the scenes in his book.

I liked that the characters had their own issues to deal with and that they weren’t exactly on the same page as the other half of their love teams straight off the bat. This makes the plot slightly more complicated while the characters seemed more human and releateable.

Marcelo understood his characters and he didn’t make them perfect. At times, Becca seemed overly dramatic but Marcelo was able to justify her actions by a substantive backstory so people won’t get too annoyed. Of the characters, Jackie reached out of the page to grab my attention. She was awesome despite being a secondary character but my favorite lines actually came from Ryan when he finally confessed his feelings for Maria through his notebook.

I liked Marcelo’s contemporary approach to writing, and his fluid storytelling style. While Ricky Lee’s Para Kay B was more serious in tone, Marcelo’s Para sa Hopeless Romantic embraced the cheesiness of falling in and out of love and all that came in between. The way the stories were interconnected makes for a sense of community among the characters and its a good thing that the readers have this one group of people to cheer for.

All in all, I think Para sa Hopeless Romantic is a good choice for a mainstream movie adaptation. Even the writing is already fit for the big screen. My favorite part of reading the book was the sense that the writer seemed to care deeply about his characters and his desire to give them their respective happily ever afters was obvious and infectious. He too, seemed to be a hopeless romantic in real life. So, was this the most original love story ever? No. But it sure as heck was entertaining and heartwarming. A great read before you go to bed or to keep you company on a long journey. Highly recommended.

Here’s the clip of the trailer if you’re interested to see what to expect on the big screen.

Insurgent: Movie Review

Insurgent Film PosterI was very impressed by the film adaptation of Divergent in 2014, that it came naturally for me to wait for the sequel with bated breath. Besides, after reading the book, I was sure that it would be just as badass as the first one.  After all, it was the most action packed of the three volumes so to say that I had great expectations about Insurgent would be an understatement.

After the attack on Abnegation and the division of Dauntless, Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James) and the rest of their group seek temporary sanctuary from Amity, but they’re not fitting in as well as they should seeing as the group has their own internal issues to deal with. It doesn’t take long for Erudite to assume control within the walls, seeking out Divergents and using them for an experiment to unlock the message left for society  by the founders. As chaos ensues within and outside the walls, Tris wrestles with her own demons – dealing with the death of her parents and her friends, trying to get her act together as war looms among the factions.

Its been a while since I’ve read the book and I think it was a good thing for me because I didn’t dwell too much on the comparisons between the literature and the adaptation. I still noticed though that filmmaker Robert Schwentke (Flight Plan, R.E.D) and writers Brian Duffield, Akiva Goldsman and Mark Bomback took a lot of creative liberties in trimming down the Vernica Roth’s novel to accommodate the film viewers’ shorter attention span.

In a way, it was a good call because the book really delved into the backstories, but on the other hand, I felt like the filmmakers edited too much, and left too little to develop the characters and the story as a whole.

While the execution was good, I felt like the movie dwelled too much on Tris alone that the other characters served as mere backdrops for her personal battles. Don’t get me wrong. I love Shailene Woodley and believe that she is a charismatic and talented actress. I may have even mentioned in my earlier posts that I actually prefer her acting to Jennifer Lawrence (No offense, J-Law), but without a substantial establishment of her relationships with fellow Dauntless members, or Amity, or Candor, it felt like a huge disservice to the story of Insurgent, which really highlighted the roles of the characters, what drives them. The book also depicted a clear picture of the bond that was established among the Dauntless warriors and their loyalty to one another, their friendship and their fragile alliance with the Factionless.

In the movie, what’s left of Dauntless were depicted as mere warm bodies needed to win a war while the Factionless were illustrated as a bunch of thugs who enjoyed bullying people because they hated the world.

Unfortunately, it seemed like there was a rush to get from Point A to Point B of the story — as if filmmakers were excited to get to the simulation part, because it felt so proud of its technically sound CGI rendering, which I’m sure the graphics team worked hard on. Still, I felt like it took too much of the film’s time.

Still, there were standouts. Managing to break through the limited wiggle room was Miles Teller as Peter. Let me just say that this guy is so talented. When he wants people to hate him, he can make audiences curse him to the ends of the earth but when he wants to show vulnerability, he can turn on the charm that one can almost forget what despicable thing he did in the first place. Theo James needs no further effort to be cool. He just needs to appear on screen and smolder and all is well in the world. His chemistry with Shailene is one of the most consistent strengths of the franchise. While Kate Winslet stepped up her game as the villain Jeanine, Ansel Elgort got the short end of the stick with Caleb’s short presence. His arc had better development in the book and made better impact. He got robbed of opportunity, in my honest opinion.

The film also overdid the graphics in this one, no matter how well executed they were. It seemed like most of the time, the scenes were part of Tris’s simulations even when they were not. Kudos though to the action sequences. They were not just cool, they were well thought out and executed, especially the brutal hand to hand combat scenes.

All in all, I think filmmakers oversimplified Insurgent and the film was poorer for it. It relied too much on pizzazz over investing in character and story development which would have helped the franchise for the remaining two movies. It was such a waste because there was a lot of material and a lot of potential to explore but these opportunities were squandered by the decision to put style over substance. While I wouldn’t say that I hated the film, I didn’t love it either. And that’s such a shame because I should have.