PICKS OF THE WEEK
“Divergent” (PG-13) — In a grimly gray futuristic version of Chicago, people are assigned to groups based on personality types and aptitudes. Teenage Triss (Shailene Woodley) is a Divergent — she doesn’t fit into any of society’s groups. An uptight faction ruler hatches a plot to exterminate the Divergents, forcing Triss to team up with a hunky peer named Four (Theo James) in a fight against the forces that keep humanity contained.
This is the latest young-adult fiction sensation to jump from book to big screen. Viewers will notice some stark similarities to other movies spun from young-adult novels — a strong female protagonist in a dystopian setting forced to fight against an oppressive society, for starters. Unfortunately for this semi-sleek thriller, it does not stand a chance in a head-to-head challenge with “The Hunger Games.”
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“Oculus” (R) — Two young siblings, Kaylie and Tim, fall victim to a cruel supernatural evil lurking inside an old mirror. The spirits of the mirror kill the kids’ parents and make young Tim look like the murderer. Now grown up, the brother and sister (Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites) are determined to prove to the world that the mirror is truly evil, clearing Tim of any guilt. As they try to document the terror that ruined their lives, Kaylie and Tim are forced to relive the nightmare of their childhood.
This family-based horror flick goes for the suspense-and-atmosphere style of scares, and doesn’t do much with gore-and-guts. It’s a slow burn. The film bounces back and forth between the childhood trauma and the adults who are trying to deal with it — it builds the dread if you’re able to ride with it.
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“God’s Not Dead” (PG) — In a college introduction to philosophy class, the first assignment is to write “God is dead,” on a piece of paper and sign your name. Josh (Shane Harper) is a freshman student who refuses to forsake his faith, and he is then challenged to prove God exists and debate the professor in front of the class. This is all stretched out by a bunch of subplots where all non-Christians are hilariously awful people. There’s even a cameo by some “Duck Dynasty” people, for some reason. This movie only knows how to preach to the choir.
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“Twelve O’Clock Boys” (NR) — This short documentary explores an urban phenomenon: dirt bikes and four-wheelers screeching down the street of Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods. The Twelve O’Clock Boys are a local nuisance who do stunts on their illegal vehicles, able to elude a cash-strapped police force operating under a no-chase policy. The documentary follows “Pug,” a little boy who dreams of nothing more than riding with the gang.
“Community: Season 5 — DVD”
“Last Tango in Halifax: Season 2”
“Top Gear 21”
“Californication: Season 7”
“The Broker’s Man, Series 2”
© 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.