Slightly diverting…but little more.

by Martin Hafer

To me, 2014 seems to be the year of the shallow attempt to recapture the financial magic of The Hunger Games.  First you had Divergent and then you had Maze Runner, with all three games aimed at the same audience and they’re pretty much the same movie in so many ways.  All are set in a manipulative futuristic dystopia and all are aimed at creating franchises that will bring in the audiences like lemmings–ready to toss wads of cash at the studios.

Directed by
Neil Burger
Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet
Release Date
21 March 2014
Martin’s Grade: C+

Don’t get me wrong–these aren’t bad movies but they are clearly lacking in creativity because the plots are, beneath it all, exactly the same.  All feature a plucky nobody who ends up somehow being different–and able to destroy the evil system despite the odds.  Whatever. All I know is that because they all follow this formula there really isn’t a lot to distinguish them.  I say just watch The Hunger Games films and be done with it!

So what do I like about this film?  After all, it’s not a bad movie and it’s pretty well made.  I think the look of this futuristic dystopian Chicago is pretty amazing.  I loved seeing huge swaths of the city gone green as well as the drained Lake Michigan–not to mention all of the buildings in serious states of disrepair (though this former part may not be all that different from some parts of the city today).  It looked great and gave you a wonderful futuristic look.

Apart from that, the script was mildly diverting and it did hold my attention.  The acting was generally good.  On the negative side, too many times I felt as if I needed Cliff Notes from the book to understand exactly what was happening, and several times there seemed to be logical jumps that could only be explained if you assume the characters were reading these as well. I was really annoyed late in the film where the heroine is out on her mission to stop the genocide–with dozens and dozens of killers chasing her.  Again and again, she kept stopping…stopping to cry, stopping to catch her breath and just stopping for dramatic effect. Hello?! Folks are chasing after you with guns….KEEP MOVING!!!!  Stop stopping!!!  Yet, you can only assume she knew that she could save the day so there was no hurry!

My overall feeling about this one is that it’s good that the film has come and gone from the theaters, as I’d never recommend you pay your $10 to go see this one.  However, as a DVD rental, it’s about right.