The latest hyped YA film franchise kicks off and a new Muppets movie comes to theaters this week, while Oscar-season favorites hit On Demand. Here's what to watch while you wait for Spring to truly begin.
This weekend, two much-hyped franchise films debut. The only real question is which you'll go to see.
Divergent is the latest Young Adult literature adaptation to come to the big screen, and like most of the others, it is a dystopia. It stars Shailene Woodley as the central teen heroine breaking free of her restrictive futuristic society (set in Chicago), with Kate Winslet filling the role of tyrannical adult oppressor. There is also Theo James to play the love interest, and Miles Teller, who reunites with Woodley after their lovely turn together in The Spectacular Now. Despite looking like another sure-fire YA franchise juggernaut earlier this year, reviews for Divergent so far have been tepid. It's currently holding at 38 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, which is considerably worse than the first Hunger Games movie. Try as it might, Divergent is always going to be compared to The Hunger Games.
Sequel to 2012's The Muppets, Muppets Most Wanted brings the whole Henson gang back for a classic caper. Though lamentably Jason Segel-less, the film has a 79 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and is generally garnering positive reviews. It probably won't be quite as delightful as its predecessor (few films are), but it's bound to be fun: the plot involves an infamous criminal named Constantine who just happens to look exactly like Kermit. High jinks ensue, as you might expect, and Kermit ends up being thrown into a Russian gulag in the place of his evil doppelgänger. The rest of the Muppets troupe then has to sort out the whole mess and get their fearless leader out of jail. The film's people cast includes Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, and Tina Fey as a Russia prison guard, which of course will be great – you've seen the trailers. Plus, as with any Muppets movie, there are going to be a billion cameos, and half the fun is waiting to see who pops up.
A third going wide(ish) this weekend is a film called God's Not Dead. It follows a college freshman who has to prove to his philosophy class that God isn't dead. It also features Christian-rock band Newsboys. So ... yea, here's the trailer:
In Limited Release
This week's limited releases are headlined by the one and only Nymphomaniac Volume 1, Lars von Trier's attempt at soft-core porn. With a 77 RT rating, it's opening in 24 theaters, including the baby-friendly showing at Sunshine Cinema in New York City. Also opening is Blood Ties, which actually has a fairly big-name cast considering it hasn't made much noise: Clive Owen, Marion Cotillard, Billy Crudup, Zoe Saldana, and Mila Kunis all star. If you're in NYC, It Felt Like Love is opening at the IFC Center on Friday; a film about teenage lust in Brooklyn, it was an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival last year, and is getting solid reviews so far.
Videos On Demand
On Demand is full of goodies this week. This year's Best Picture winner, 12 Years a Slave, is up, which any self-respecting movie fan will see if they haven't already. Also up is American Hustle, which scored a ton of Oscar nominations but won nothing. It's fun to watch mostly for its performances (Amy Adams is particularly great), because the plot leaves a bit to be desired. Or, if you're still burnt-out on all the Oscar films, there's Kill Your Darlings, which follows a Columbia-enrolled Allen Ginsberg as he befriends William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac and the Beat movement is born. The dialogue is heavy-handed and the performances are over-acted (Daniel Radcliffe plays Ginsberg as he so desperately tries to escape Harry Potter), but it's neat to see those now-classic writers young and in action.
Streaming on Netflix
Your new-to-Netflix-streaming options are limited, but not terrible. For the kids there's Turbo, about a snail that competes in the Indy 500. Snoop Dogg (Lion?) provides the voice for one of the characters, so there's that. Gattaca, the '90s sci-fi dystopian film about genetic engineering, is also new to Netflix Instant, and it's one of the better future dystopia movies you'll see. But you're probably just going to watch Bad Boys, because it's awesome.
Movies on TV
The Hangover III is Saturday night's movie premiere on HBO. You know exactly what you're getting into with that one, no need to describe (I'll let President Obama's slam of Zach Galifianakis for doing a third speak for itself). Showtime has Saw II on at 8 p.m. Saturday, if you're looking for some slasher, torture-porn fun. If you wait until 10 p.m., Showtime has The Canyons, that absolute mess of a movie starring Lindsay Lohan and porn star James Deen. Make the right decision.