TrulyTuesday/Thursday – Divergent Review

The TrulyTuesday video (or TrulyThursday video in the case) is finally up! Thank you so much for your patience Luminaries! It was quite the adventure putting this one together. Hope you enjoy and stay tuned for more videos in the coming weeks!

Movie Review – “Divergent” Effectively Brings Novel to Life

The wait for the Divergent movie has finally ended as it is now in theaters! I am going to share some of my thoughts about the film in a TrulyLuminary exclusive review!

Divergent has brought a lot of relevant and interesting topics to the young adult realm and the film captures those elements nicely. The intrigue, action, and romance from the book are all portrayed very well and come through on screen. Even though there are some things from the book that did not get put in, the movie still expresses the overall feeling of the novel.

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The younger cast is quite talented and they all held their own against the established adult actors in the film. Shailene Woodley was powerful as Tris and her performance was believable. Newcomer Theo James also did well as Four and gave a smoldering performance that will no doubt leave audiences swooning.

Four was my favorite character in the novels and he is definitely my favorite character in the films. Through his performance, James was able to bring Four’s major (and loveable) character traits from the books onto the screen.

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Supporting actors in the film also gave very powerful performances and audiences will be excited to see more of them in the next film. For instance, Ansel Elgort, Miles Teller, and Zoe Kravitz all did a great job of really capturing the characters of Caleb Prior, Peter, and Christina respectively.

There was not a single moment where the performances weren’t believable or seemed like they were forced. Every cast member remained true to the character they were portraying.

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The costumes, props, and set designs were very instrumental is creating the futuristic world Divergent is set in. In the novel, faction members all dress differently in order to represent which faction they are from and the costuming made this clear in the film.

Of course, the books are packed with action and the major action sequences are well done in the film. Choreographing those scenes was no doubt a difficult and intricate process and they played on screen quite effectively.

Divergent also was emotionally evocative. There were moments that would make you laugh, moments that would make you feel anxietal and tense, moments that would leave you teary-eyed, and moments that left you feeling empowered.

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However, there were also some elements that could have been done differently. For parts of the film, you had to have read at least the first book to fully understand and appreciate. This is good for the fans who have read the book (or the series), but it makes it confusing for the audience members who have not.

As a woman, and given the progressive modern values on violence against women, the fight scene between Peter (Teller) and Tris (Woodley) made me feel uncomfortable. I recognize that this was a major scene in the novel and an important part of Tris’ initiation process, but nonetheless it was still uncomfortable to visibly see on screen.

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* WARNING – SPOILER AHEAD *

Near the end of the film, Tris shoots Peter to injure him and scare him into guiding them to where Jeanine (Kate Winslet) is running the warrior simulation. In the novel, he remains injured and he needs help when escaping the Dauntless faction. When they are escaping in the film, it seems that he is all of a sudden not injured and runs to catch the train without any difficulty.

Overall, Divergent was an entertaining film that captures the major elements of the story in an effective manner. Through believable performances, set pieces, and action sequences the world of Divergent was set up very nicely. Looking forward to the second film in the series and to see what the new director, Robert Schwentke, brings to the table.

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[3.5/5]

Are you going to be seeing Divergent in theaters? If so, share your thoughts about the film in the comments below!

Exclusive Movie Review – “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey came out a year ago and fans have been eagerly awaiting The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug ever since. Director Peter Jackson and his production teams put together an amazing sequel that will once again leave audiences wanting more.

* Warning – Possible spoilers ahead. *

The film begins in a flashback scene in Bree, a small town just outside of the borders of the Shire. In this scene we see how the journey truly began and we see that it was Gandalf who ultimately persuaded Thorin to go on a quest to reclaim his homeland. Then we are back with Bilbo and the dwarf troop as they continue their journey towards Erebor.

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The troop must enter through the dangerous Mirkwood Forest in order to embark on the last leg of the journey. However, Gandalf cannot go with them and embarks on another quest towards Dol Guldur, where the necromancer is gaining power.

He warns the troop to stay on the path, otherwise the dark powers of the forest will cause you to hallucinate. Of course, when in the Mirkwood Forest, the dwarves end up straying from the path and are captured by large spiders. This means that Bilbo must use his wits and his new ring to get them out of danger.

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Once Bilbo finally frees all of the dwarves from the spiderwebs, the chase begins as they try to fight their way out of the forest. One of those many moments in the film when you think to yourself “How are they going to get out of this?” The answer my friends, is the elves. Legolas and Tauriel come barging in with a troop of fellow elves to battle it out with the spiders.

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Although the elves save the dwarves from the onslaught of arachnids, they capture them and strip them of their weapons and other possessions. This creates a moment between Legolas and Gloin (Glimey’s father) that will no doubt leave fans laughing.

The elves then take them back to Mirkwood living quarters and put them in jail for intruding. As the dwarves are leaving the forest, they realize that Bilbo is nowhere to be found.

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Bilbo uses the ring and follows them to Mirkwood and soon realizes that he must rescue the dwarves (again) and get them out of the Mirkwood jail. He finds a quick and risky solution within some empty barrels. These barrels are going to be sent down the river to Laketown, which is just the place they need to get to before heading up the mountain to Erebor.

So Bilbo waits until the opportune moment, uses the ring to steal the jail keys, frees the dwarves, and shows them his plan. At first, they are all very apprehensive, but Thorin convinces them it is the right thing to do and the only way to get out and continue their quest.

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Just as the dwarves escape in the barrels, Tauriel and her guards realize that they have escaped the jail. This causes all of the guards to be on high alert and ultimately leads to the dwarves being blocked from leaving. However, an army of orcs have been tracking the dwarves on order of Azog the defiler and they start to attack the elves and the dwarves. From here, an incredible and crazy battle scene down the river begins.

When Bilbo and the dwarves escape the orcs, they take a moment to gather themselves and tend to Kili, who has been injured in the battle. This reprieve is short-lived as they are confronted by Bard the Bowman of Laketown.

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Bard is the one responsible for retrieving the barrels and returning them to Laketown and he was not expecting company. The troop ends up convincing Bard to help them get to Laketown via his boat.

Once they get to Laketown, Bard is worried he could get into trouble so he finds ways to keep them hidden until they can get to his house. From here, Bilbo and the dwarves end up staying with Bard and his three kids.

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Thorin grows restless knowing that Erebor is so close and he is so close to reaching his goal. He goes against Bard’s advice and gathers Bilbo and the rest of the dwarves to steal weapons from the armory. The royal guards of Laketown end up catching them and taking them to the Master of Laketown.

Thorin realizes how greedy the Master of Laketown is and the impoverished conditions the people of Laketown are living in. He uses this to his advantage as he is trying to convince everyone of the meaning behind their journey to Erebor. Thorin promises that restoring Erebor is not only going to benefit the dwarves, but the people of Laketown too.

And so begins the journey up to the mountain…

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I do not want to reveal too much more, but this is definitely not a film to miss! Peter Jackson has once again delivered an absolutely amazing film that will likely thrill audiences around the world.

The production teams always do a spectacular job. The amazingly detailed costumes, set pieces, props, and stunning make up only did more to enhance the journey. The visual effects team also did an amazing job with creating Smaug the dragon and expanding on the design of the orcs. 

The actors that were also in the first film, all did great with enhancing and developing their characters. Actors that were new to the Hobbit franchise such as, Luke Evans, Evangeline Lilly, and Orlando Bloom also did well with introducing and developing their characters.

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Overall, the story was well-paced and action-packed, but there were a few moments where it felt like the story was dragging on a little bit. Plus, some of the visual effects made me feel like I was watching a video game rather then a movie. Nonetheless, The Desolation of Smaug was another triumph under Peter Jackson’s movie belt. The ending of this awaited sequel will absolutely leave you wanting more.

Movie Review – “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” a Blazing Roller Coaster

The wait for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is finally over as it officially hits theaters today! Fans will be absolutely thrilled with the end result and will feel that the long 20 months between Hunger Games and this installment was time well spent. Director Francis Lawrence did an amazing job, picking up on things Gary Ross left out. I have no doubt the rest of the franchise is in excellent hands.

* Warning – Possible spoilers ahead. *

We start off back in District 12 a few months after Katniss and Peeta win the 74th Annual Hunger Games in an act of rebellion. In these opening scenes we start to see how having to participate in this competition has effected Katniss as she is dealing with post traumatic stress. Katniss and Peeta are now living in what is called the Victor’s Village, a housing area set up by the Capitol for the Victors.

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Katniss comes home from a trip out to the woods with Gale to discover that President Snow and some of his guards are wanting to speak with her. She is then left alone to speak with the cunning President and he warns that people of the Districts have started to rebel against the Capitol because of her actions. He also warns that if she does not convince him of her love for Peeta then those she loves will be in danger.

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Katniss and Peeta then leave for the Victory Tour in which they go to each District to publicly speak about the games and the fallen tributes. Throughout their journey on the Victory Tour we start to subtly see the rebellion “catching fire” in the Districts.

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The tour ends in the Capitol where Katniss and Peeta attend the Presidential Ball with guide, Effie Trinket. Here we are introduced to Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s character, head Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee.

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We then return to District 12 and because of the events of the Victory Tour, the rebellion across Panem is getting worse. This causes President Snow to take drastic measures and he sends heavier armies of “Peacemakers” to all of the Districts for enforcement. In District 12, the ruthless Commander Thread is put in charge and he does not tolerate rebellion. This leads to a gut-wrenching scene between him, Gale, and Katniss.

The next day, President Snow makes a huge announcement about the 75th Hunger Games. He explains that because the 75th Annual Hunger Games is also the 3rd Quarter Quell there has to be something unique about it. Snow then goes on to announce that the tributes for these games will be reaped from the previous victors. This means that Katniss and Peeta end up back in the Hunger Games.

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Back in the Capitol, we are introduced to the unlucky victors who are once again tributes in the games. We also get to see the new training facility, the new tribute living quarters, and Caesar Flickerman’s new stage.

The night before everyone is headed back into the arena, Caesar interviews each tribute, asking them various questions. However, when it is time for Peeta’s interview, he drops “a bomb” that even has the Capitol citizens ready to rebel. This is when we see a display of the tributes coming together as one and holding hands in front of the crowd. Needless to say, this makes President Snow quite unhappy.

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The next morning, the tributes are getting ready to head into the arena. There is an emotional scene as Katniss, Peeta, Effie, and Haymitch are saying their good-byes. Cinna talks with Katniss as she is preparing to go into the arena and before she heads into the elevator, they too say an emotional good-bye. Then we are in the arena and the games begin…

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I do not want to give too much more away, so get thee to a theater if you want to know what happens next!

Francis Lawrence did an absolutely amazing job as director and fans will definitely be happy with the work and attention to detail that he put into this film. It is a stronger and more faithful adaptation to the novel than The Hunger Games. In the first film, Prim’s cat Buttercup was a tuxedo cat, but he was named Buttercup for his fluffy orange fur. In Catching Fire, Buttercup is a fluffy orange tabby. It is the attention to detail like that that will make fans of the book happy.

The performances from all of the actors involved were excellent and stronger from the previous film. Jennifer Lawrence, of course, is an amazing actress and her performance carried the story. Donald Sutherland and Stanley Tucci are also two very strong actors who are always amazing at what they do. However, I felt that their performances in this film were much stronger than in the first one. Sutherland is even more cunning and sinister as President Snow and Tucci is even more over the top and flamboyant as Caesar Flickerman.

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Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth also brought more to the table as the two love interests. Due to their stronger performances and a stronger romantic storyline, the love triangle between Peeta, Katniss, and Gale was much more believable.

Overall, the movie was fast paced and a complete emotional roller coaster. Francis Lawrence did a great job of including funny moments that would make you laugh, emotional moments that would make you teary-eyed, shocking moments that would make you gasp, romantic moments that would make you swoon, and thrilling moments that would leave you on the edge of your seat.

The production design was stunning in every aspect. From the costumes, hair, and makeup details all the way to the props and set pieces. Just gorgeous!

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There were only two major things that I felt could have been handled differently. First off, the arena section of the movie, although very intense, felt a little short and rushed. Secondly, “the bomb” that Peeta drops while being interviewed by Caesar is never really mentioned or dealt with again. It just seemed strange to me that such a major piece of the storyline got dropped off so easily.

Let me tell you, though, you will not be disappointed in the end result! Just like the ending of the book, the ending of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie will leave you wanting more. Once you have seen the movie, share your thoughts in the comments!