Will 2014 be a good year for big-screen science fiction?
This article is more than 2 years old
Divergent (March 21)
Dystopian teen sci-fi is huge for movie studios right now. And if can adapt a hugely popular pre-existing series of novels, all the better. If Summit Entertainment has anything to say about it, the next big franchise will be their adaptation of Veronica Roth’s Divergent novels. The most obvious point of comparison for the first installment, which opens March 21, is The Hunger Games. Both feature tough teenage female protagonists; corrupt, oppressive governments; and fierce struggles to stay alive.
Set in a futuristic Chicago, where society is divided into groups according to people’s dominant personality traits, Divergent tells the story of Beatrice “Tris” Prior (Shailene Woodley). When she turns 16, she has to take a test that will decide which of five factions she will belong to for the rest of her life. You know, no pressure or anything. The options are Abnegation (the selfless), Erudite (the intelligent), Dauntless (the brave), Candor (the honest), and Amity (the peaceful). When she gets her results back, it turns out she’s Divergent, with equal aptitude in more than one classification. As you can imagine, this throws the carefully ordered social system into question, and the powers-that-be have to keep that under wraps.
Divergent has a cool setup, and a strong cast that also features Theo James, Kate Winslet, Ashley Judd, Maggie Q, and more. The studio gave it a prime release date, which seems to indicate they have faith in the final product, but the first clip that came out is this laughable romantic melodrama that looks like it came straight out of some knock off 1990s prime-time teen soap opera. We’ll still give the movie a fair shake, but that tempered our enthusiasm somewhat. – Brent
Under the Skin (April 4)
I generally lean towards strange and avant-garde films more than most modern-day blockbusters, so Jonathan Glazer’s return to cinema is very much welcomed. Under the Skin has a weird premise that appeals to my sensibilities, while Glazer’s vision and direction will likely make the film come alive. Under the Skin stars Scarlett Johannson as “an alien seductress preying upon hitchhikers in Scotland.” It’s based on Dutch author Michel Faber’s critically acclaimed sci-fi novel.
It’s doubtful that the film will re-define the genre, but it’s most likely going to be one of the more interesting and exciting movies of 2014. Besides, there’s not enough art-house science fiction cinema out there these days. – Rudie
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