Movie review: The Circle

Movie reviews

Hello!

Sorry for not posting for a while but now I am back with a new movie review. This time, we are discussing The Circle.

IMDb summary: A woman lands a dream job at a powerful tech company called the Circle, only to uncover an agenda that will affect the lives of all of the humanity.

Spoiler Warning

Writing

The Circle was written by the director James Ponsoldt and the author of the original novel Dave Eggers. Even though Eggers was helping with the adapting process, the usual book to movie changes did occur. The narrative was streamlined and some of the unnecessary plot details were cut out (mainly the extra development for the main character – her interaction with the couple on a boat and her quite uncomfortable relationship with the character of Francis (who does not appear in the film at all). Also, the reveal of John Boyega’s character came sooner in the movie while it was held secret until the end of the book.

Idea-wise, the film was quite fateful, although it did have more gray areas, which I quite liked. My main complaint about the book was that it presented the ideas on privacy and freedom but wasn’t critical of them. The fact that the majority of people were okay with this new world order and didn’t bat an eye about losing their right to chose were two things that were hard to believe. This type of naivety was quite unrealistic and, in turn, annoying. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

The book’s ending, while shocking, was also very much frustrating and solidified the unlikeability of the character (due to her complete naivety). The movie’s main character – Mae – appeared to be more critical of the world she inhabited, and even though there were plenty of moments where the character appeared to have drunk the kool-aid completely, she ultimately chose to fight against it. However, whether she was fighting against the loss of privacy or just against the two heads of The Circle, I don’t know. I wish that would have been made more clear. Additionally, it is important to note that her decision to rebel might have made the film’s ending more stereotypically Hollywood-like, but I thought that it was more interesting than the book’s ending: it still raised the questions of transparency but it also gave a resolution to the story, even if a very uncertain one.

Directing

James Ponsoldt, who has previously directed The Spectacular Now, which I quite liked, and The End of The Tour, which I have been meaning to watch for a while, helmed The Circle and did an okay job. The setting and the design of The Circle company was good – not too futuristic and actually believable (in contrast to the ideas). The camera work was fine too – a variety of angles was used. The pacing was solid and the levels of intensity worked too. Overall, the film was not spectacular but I don’t think that Ponsoldt’s directing abilities were in any way to blame.

Acting

Emma Watson starred as the main character Mae. While reading the book, I absolutely hated this character but Watson succeeded in making her at least a tiny bit more likable and relatable on screen. I also thought that she made the character’s arc seem believable, as much as she could with the flawed writing. Her performance was not superb but it was an okay follow-up to one of the biggest movies of the year – Beauty and the Beast.

Tom Hanks (Sully, Inferno, Bridge of Spies) starred as one of the heads of The Circle and played a sort of villainous role – that’s not typical of him. However, the match between an actor and a character was actually quite a good one – the character needed to be really charismatic and Hanks as an actor just seems so likable and personable. I loved his reaction to Mae turning against him.  Interestingly, Hanks has already starred in a previous adaptation of one of Eggers’s books – A Hologram for the King.

John Boyega had a small role as his follow-up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He didn’t have much to do but he did shine in a few scenes he was in. Later this year, he will also appear in a potential award’s contender – Bigelow’s Detroit. He was also cast in the Pacific Rim franchise.

Karen Gillan also had a little role and was okay. It was nice actually seeing her on screen without all the blue makeup of Nebula (Guardians of the Galaxy). Her next film is the Jumanji remake/sequel.

Boyhood’s Ellar Coltrane and the comedian Patton Oswalt also appeared in the picture and did a fine job. Bill Paxton also had a small role. The Circle was his final appearance on film, may he rest in peace.

In short, The Circle is a good drama that has the potential to kickstart a conversation on the issues it addressed. However, I don’t think that the movie itself did a good enough job on commenting on the said problems that it introduced.

Rate: 3.75/5

Trailer: The Circle trailer

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Movie review: The Divergent Series: Insurgent

Movie reviews

Hello!

So, last night, I went to see the second installment in The Divergent Series – Insurgent and this is going to be my review.Enjoy!

First of all, I would like to give a spoiler warning because I might spoil some details of the film in the review. Still here? Let’s go then.

IMDb summary: Beatrice Prior must confront her inner demons and continue her fight against a powerful alliance which threatens to tear her society apart with the help from others on her side.

As a young adult myself and a fan of dystopian genre, I was really excited about this film. I have read all the books by Veronica Roth about 2 years ago, so, going into this film, I knew what was going to happen. Still, since it’s been quite a long time since I’ve read the original material and I have read a lot of books since then, I couldn’t remember all the details of the story, so I got to experience everything once again, like for the very first time.

Having said that, before I did this review, I reread the plot of the book at The Divergent Wikia page and realized that I would have probably been surprised by the plot of the film even if I had remember the book’s plot because they changed a lot of stuff.

I am usually really open-minded when it comes to book-to-movie adaptations and the changes they make but this time I had a few problems.

To begin with, they left out a lot of characters. Marcus had nothing to do in this film, Tori was also left out for the bigger part and even though they gave Tori’s twist to Evelyn, she was also an undeveloped character. In addition, other characters like Shauna, Lynn, Edward were cut. Christina was forgotten and Uriah didn’t really stick out to me.

Moreover, they changed the story a lot. The whole box and the test story-line was completely different than it was in the book (though I really liked it – not more than the book version but they were on an equal level at least). The book also had more democracy in it: more trials, more meeting and, in the film, they were just straight up killing each other. However, I really liked that they didn’t shy away from the killing in a PG-13 film. The books had a lot of deaths in them (a lot of unnecessary ones, especially the 3rd book – book readers will understand:)) and the movie should portray the cruelty of that wold correctly.  Visuals

You can definitely tell that they spent 110 million dollars on this film because it looks spectacular. I immensely enjoyed all the simulations and the way they were realized. Those particles looked extremely cool. The whole world building and Jeanine’s holographs were also realistic and interesting. I just wish they hadn’t spoiled all the cool Tris’s simulation scenes in the trailers and teasers.

Character by character (acting)

I believe that the 4 main young actors did a great ob. I am a huge Shailene Woodley fan (the whole post about her) and really like her in a role of Tris. I also dig the new haircut: it makes her look more edgy and sophisticated at the same time. Theo James was also good in his role, though, he didn’t have much to do. On the other hand, he will have a bigger role in the 3 and 4 films if they stick to the Allegiant’s (book’s) plot.

Miles Teller was also very good in the role of Peter. I am also a huge fan of his (post about him) and really liked his characters changes of heart. Ansel Elgort – also a favorite of mine (TFIOS!). However, his story-line was a bit weak and the betrayal wasn’t really realized properly.

The adults: Kate Winslet as Jeanine was okay. I wish she would have done more with this role. Evelyn played by Naomi Watts wasn’t realized properly too as I have already mentioned. I wish they would have spent more time with Tori played by Maggie Q because she is one of my favorite characters. The only adult character I really liked was Daniel Dae Kim’s Jack King – the leader of the Candor.

Themes

The dystopian genre always explores the same themes: humanity’s self destruction, society’s division into groups and the cost of rebellion. Interestingly, this particular series also dells deeper into psychological issues of the main character: the ability to forgive oneself and be at peace with oneself. I really like when big Hollywood block-busters have some heart in them.

My favorite quote was said by Evelyn: “I am factionless because I don’t belong to any faction and you are a divergent because you belong to too many” (sorry if I couldn’t remember it word by word). It gives a nice perspective on the differences and ,at the same time, similarities of the people. No matter how different we all are, we are all outsiders of society. There is no inside circle.

All in all, I enjoyed the film but it was far from perfect. Next year, we will be getting Allegiant Part 1 and then Part 2 the year after that. I wish they would have stayed more faithful to the book while making the 2nd film and changed the 3rd book’s story-line but I really doubt that that will happen.

Trailer: Insurgent trailer

Rate: 4/5

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Photos: Screenshots form the trailer, poster – LIONSGATE.

Current favorite actress: Shailene Woodley

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Shailene Woodley is a 22 year old American actress, who started her acting career on the small screen, particularly, in an ABC family’s teen drama The Secret Life of the American Teenager. The show ran for 5 seasons from 2008 till 2013. By the end of it, it had lost a lot of fans because it started repeating the same stories and dragging on the new ones. More importantly, almost all the fans were disappointed with the ending of the series.  I was a loyal fan of the show, started watching it around the 3rd season. Shailene’s character was probably one of the most annoying characters in a history of television for me. Nonetheless, I enjoyed her performance as an actress because she really made me hate that character.

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In 2011, Shailene moved to the big screen and stared in family drama The Descendants alongside George Clooney. For the role in this movie Shailene received recognition form the critics and won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actress as well as was nominated for the Golden Globe in the same category.

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In 2013, she once again received an Independent Spirit Award’s nomination for the lead role in coming of age drama The Spectacular Now. Milles Teller also started in this movie as her love interest and later moved on to be her enemy in Divergent. (See a post about him here).

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2014 were the best year so far for Shailene. She got the lead role of Tris in Divergent – dystopian young adult book to movie adaptation.  Of course, Shailene and Divergent were immediately compared to Jennifer Lawrence and The Hunger Games. I believe that Shailene stood her ground and she was excellent in the film.

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Another big film of 2014 was The Fault in Our Stars (review). Beloved book by youtuber/author John Green was one of the most anticipated book adaptations ever and Shailene got a worldwide recognition as well as praise for her portrayal of Hazel – a teenage girl who knows she is going to die from cancer. Her brother form the Divergent series – Ansel Elgort – also stared (as her love interest this time).

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White Bird in a Blizzard – another independent Shailene’s movie. It was released in 2013 in some countries and only a year later in others.  This movie was super peculiar to me: some themes felt disconnected form others. I couldn’t understand what a mother’s problems had to do with a teenage girl’s sexuality. I guess it showed how bad parenting affects children, what a loveless marriage can do to you and what a strong feeling jealousy is. But how can there be jealousy in a family? That just seemed straight up strange. I have never felt anything remotely close to the things they portrayed. However, I agreed with one idea of the movie: something can look perfect from the outside, but deep under covers, the truth might be completely different.

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Shailene has strong beliefs when it comes to the environment. She tries to help save our nature, uses only ecological make-up and hair products and strongly expresses her opinions about saving and cherishing our world.

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Next in Shailene’s future stand 3 more movies in the Divergent series (2015, 2016 and 2017). She currently doesn’t have any more announced projects but I believe that she has a bright future ahead of her. She definitely deserves an Oscar nomination and I believe she will get one sometime soon for a role in another independent movie.

Shailene’s style:

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Photos: Google Images

Current favorite actor: Miles Teller

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Recently, I have been watching a lot of movies starting American actor Miles Teller and it gave me an idea to stars a new series of blog posts in which I will tell you about celebrities (actors, actresses, singers, models and etc.) which I currently like.

As it happens, the first star that I am going to talk about is Miles Teller. Miles is 27 year old actor who has been acting since 2004 but just recently started to get recognition for his work and consequently – more roles in movies. I have first seen him in Divergent and later in That Awkward Moment and have been blown away by his performance, so, I decided to see more movies starring him. I watched The Spectacular Now and Footloose (2011). The first one is an amazing coming of age drama (Miles won The Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting at the Sundance film festival in 2013 for his role in this movie) and the second – a fun remake of an 80s movie. He also had a minor role in Project X – found footage movie about a crazy party.

I admire Miles ability to be serious in one moment and funny the next. He is not a huge movie star for now but I believe that he has a long and successful career ahead of him. I can’t wait to for Insurgent (the second movie in the Divergent series) where he stars as Peter – main antagonist of the series. However, I believe that his ticket to stardom is Fantastic Four reboot which will come out in 2015 (next summer in particular). Miles is going to play Mr.Fantastic – leader of the pack. There hasn’t been much news about the film but as a die-hard Marvel fan I am really excited about it. I hope Fox doesn’t mess up this series as they did with the X-men (but they kind of fixed it with Days of Future Past so I am starting to have faith in them).

Before these two movies come out I am planning to check out Miles’ performance in comedy 21&Over, Two Night Stand, Get a Job (2015) and drama Whiplash and I invite you to do the same. He will also be in the next Divergent movie – Insurgent comes out in March 2015.

UPDATE: I’ve already watched two
comedies from that small list (21&Over and Two Night Stand). I laughed a lot during them and really enjoyed the performance of both casts. (In the first one, Miles was joined by Skylar Astin, Justin Chon and Jonathan Keltz. In the second, the cast included Analeigh Tipton (ANTM cycle 11) and Jessica Szohr).

UPDATE no. 2: Oh, how wrong I (and everyone) was about that Fantastic Four movie. If you haven’t seen it – DO NOT WATCH IT. It’s terrible.


Photos: Google Images

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Movie Saturday!

Movie reviews

Hello, my dear readers!

Today was a beautiful day in Lithuania, sunny and warm. However, I spent it indoors, watching movies instead of enjoying nice spring weather.  Bellow you will find my short review of each and every one of them as well as recommendations, when to watch it. Enjoy!

1. I started with a romantic-drama “The Spectacular Now”.  I wanted to watch it a long time ago, because it has one of my favorite actresses – Shailene Woodley – in it. This movie really surprised me – it is not a stupid romantic comedy with silly jokes, but a very emotional, inspirational movie with a very-well written scenario and well-developed characters. The movie follows lives of two teenagers – Sutter Keely and Aimee Finecky. It shows how they search for their true identity, how they deal with parents’ problems and of course – how they fall in love. The film is based on a book with the same name written by Tim Tharp (I am definetly going to read it) and premiered at a Sundance Film Festival, where it was praised by critcs. I would definetly recommend this movie for a girls night, when you want something romantic but still something authentic that captures the intensity, the beauty and the scariness of first love. Similar movies – The Perks of being a Wallflower.  Rate – 5/5

2.   The second movie was a classical one – “The Great Gatsby” (2013 version). I love Leonardo Dicaprio in every single movie he stars in, but this one didn’t amaze me. Maybe that’s because I am not huge fan of 1920s era? Or maybe because I was so angry with one of the main characters – Daisy – for treating Gatsby the way she did. Short summary: The movie is told from Nick Carraway’s point of view. He is in a sanatorium to treat his alchoholism. He tells a story of a millionaire Jay Gatsby, who devoted his life for a woman he did not even knew. The plot has a few twist and turns and no happy ending.  It is based on the book with the same name by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It is not a first time this story is made into movie. In 1926 it was made into a silent film, in 1949 and 1974 into a proper motion picture, in 1999 – into opera and finaly in 2000 – into TV film. Rate 3/5

3. The third movie I watched – “Inception”. It came out 4 years ago – in 2010. Leonardo DiCaprio also stars in this one.  Unlike Gatsby, this movie really astonished me. The plot was interesting and unpredictable and the overall idea of the movie was very innovative and exciting. The science fiction thriller explores the posibility of controling dreams, dreaming inside of dreams and so forth. I would not be surprised if this fantasy would actually come true in a couple of year’s time. Despite having Leo, film’s large ensemble cast includes Ellen Page,  Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ken Watanabe, Tom Hardy, Dileep Rao, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, and Michael Caine. This movie is perfect for Sci-fi fans out there as well as dystopian fantasy lovers. Rate 4/5

4.  The last movie of the day (night – I finished it around midnight) – “The Lone Ranger”. This one tells a story of the Lone Ranger and Indian named Tonto as they attempt to find justice in a corrupt world of XIX century. It is based on a book “Lone Ranger“ by Fran Striker and George W. Trendle. Johnny Depp portrays Tonto – Comanche Indian who is looking for revenge for his tribe. The Lone Ranger’s role went to Armie Hammer. His character is also trying to avenge those, who were close to him. William Fichtner plays Butch Cavendish, a ruthless and cannibalistic outlaw who is the main antagonist of the movie. The film is full of funny little jokes that usually involve horse and in my opinion, Johnny Depp is one of the greatest actors today and all his characters a very complex, interesting and unique. Rate 5/5

That’s all for today. Tomorrow, I am planning to post a short description of my Easter – I will tell you all about traditions in my family. Hope you have a great day. Bye.

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