As I approach the start of my second year as house movie critic for Jim Freund’s superlative, free-form science fiction and fantasy radio show, Hour of the Wolf (every Thursday morning at 1:30 AM on WBAI 99.5FM here in NYC), I feel not unlike Tris (Shailene Woodley), the teenage protagonist of the dystopic science fiction action film, DIVERGENT: facing my future with a mixture of deep apprehension and grim determination. In my favor: my situation is set in a relatively rational reality, whereas the world of DIVERGENT makes not a whit of sense. Which, just by coincidence, forms the central focus of my review. Click on the player to hear the show, and like Hour of the Wolf on Facebook.
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In the future, humanity will achieve peace and prosperity by being divided into five factions. When you’re sixteen, you get tested to see which faction you belong in, and that determines your station in life for the rest of your existence. Unless you decide to join another faction, which you’re totally free to do. But if you discover that your not really fit for your chosen faction — which is what the testing showed to begin with — tough noogies, because you can’t go back once you’ve chosen, and have to become an outcast and can’t work anywhere, because that’s an efficient use of manpower. Unless, of course, you’re one of the people who contain aspects worthy of several factions, because we all know such a multi-talented person is a really rare commodity. You’re then dubbed a Divergent, and you’re fully screwed, because… people don’t like a show-off?
No, the premise of DIVERGENT doesn’t make much sense, and will only give you headache the longer you think about it. So the Cinefantastique Online team of Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French, and Dan Persons — aided and abetted by beabetterbooktalker.com‘s Andrea Lipinski for a little literary credibility — try to get around the conceptual roadblocks to determine whether this teen-oriented, dystopic science fiction action film at least passes muster as fun entertainment. Some clear the hurdle, some (such as the person writing this intro) keep tripping on the bar. Click on the player to hear the show.
Apes on horseback… Ultra-hot image of Theo James in DIVERGENT… The Chinese show THE CROODS the door… Let’s all ignore what Brett Ratner is doing…
From the luxurious Cinefantastique Online studios in NYC, Dan Persons brings you up-to-date on what’s going on in genre media.
Dan Persons, Lawrence French, and Steve Biodrowski expand their minds to LIMITLESS proportions in the latest installment of Cinefantastique’s Spotlight Podcast, which focuses on the new movie starring Bradley Cooper as a man who achieves fame and fortune thanks to ingestion of NZT, an illegal wonder drug that allows users to reach their fullest potential. Complications ensue, in the form of withdrawal pains, Russian Mafia types, and a manipulative corporate big-wig played by Robert DeNiro. Is this sophisticated science fiction at its finest, or does LIMITLESS have trouble living up to its own higher aspirations? Listen in, and find out.
Relativity Media releases this science fiction-themed thriller, about a mild-mannered copywriter (Bradley Cooper), who discovers a top-secret drug that gives him superhuman mental and physical abilities (we’re talking about enhanced intellect rather than leaping tall buildings at a single bound, so we’re not quite into comic book territory). Neil Burger (THE ILLUSIONIST) directed from a screenplay by Leslie Dixon, based on the novel by Alan Glynn. Robert DeNiro, Abbie Cornish, Anna Friel, Johnny Whitworth, Andrew Howard, and Robert John Burke fill out the cast.
Just in case I missed any details, here is the official plot synopsis:
Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro star in Limitless, a paranoia-fueled action thriller about an unpublished writer whose life is transformed by a top-secret smart drug that allows him to use 100% of his brain and become a perfect version of himself. His enhanced abilities soon attract shadowy forces that threaten his new life in this darkly comic and provocative film.
I do want to add that the “100% of your brain” nonsense is based on the popular misconception that humans uses only 20% of their brains (a myth spoofed in the Albert Brooks film DEFENDING YOUR LIFE). In fact, all of us use all of our brains; it’s just that only a small percentage of neurons fire at any particular time. You wouldn’t want them all firing at once – that’s an epileptic seizure.
At least the trailer gets extra credit for the soundtrack, which excerpts a cover of King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man.”