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The Divergent Series: Allegiant

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It’s now becoming standard to expect Oscar-level quality from your common garden blockbuster. When did we all get so serious? There’s a time and place for movies to be just totally un-redeeming and fun without the critical acclaim. The Divergent Series: Allegiant is one of those films. Crackling with epic action scenes, spectacular visuals, and unexpected twists, The Divergent Series: Allegiant follows Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), and their comrades as they escape the walled city of Chicago and embark on their most harrowing adventure yet. Once outside, old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless with the revelation of shocking new truths. As a ruthless battle ignites which threatens all of humanity, Tris is forced to make impossible choices of courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Jeff Daniels replaces Kate Winslet as the villain of the piece here, but fails to bring the same heat to the role. You find yourself actually forgetting that he’s part of the story until he inexplicably pops up again. Shailene Woodley and Zoë Kravitz add serious girl power, kicking arse and taking names, and while neither of their characters have a great deal of depth, it’s fun to watch them incapacitate a room full of burly dudes.

This is the third installment of the four-pronged series, where director, Robert Schwentke, has brought a level of maturity to the characters and the narrative. The script could have done with some love, but it comfortably strikes that balance between reality and suspended disbelief. This isn’t Schindler’s List, and it was never meant to be. It’s 120mins of action-packed fight scenes where lots of things blow up and CGI is used for just about everything. In short, it’s a big slab of post-apocalyptic dystopian fun.

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The Boss

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Okay, let’s start with an acknowledgement: comedy isn’t easy to create. Some writers argue that it is harder than tragedy. Still, when you see the average Hollywood comedy today, you do wonder if the bar is raised high enough. The latest addition, The Boss, even boasts a fine pedigree as it is produced by, amongst others, Will Ferrell, who consistently makes Hollywood fare with a good dose of laughs. It is co-written by leading lady, Melissa McCarthy, and helmed by actor turned director, Ben Falcone, who previously directed her (they are also partners in real life) in the little seen Tammy, and also featured in a supporting role in McCarthy’s star-making hit, Bridesmaids.

The Boss is built around its leading performer, and McCarthy is in almost every scene. She plays Michelle Darnell, a down-market Martha Stewart who is too sweet natured for the tough world of business, but has become used to the trappings of being rich. Some years before, she had a fling with a rival business colleague, Renault (the reliable Peter Dinklage from Game Of Thrones), and the two have a love-hate relationship that drives the plot. Michelle – like Martha Stewart – goes to prison (for insider trading), and when she gets out, she is hungry to make her fortune over again. When she lucks into a chocolate brownie selling scheme through her beleaguered assistant, Claire’s (Kristen Bell) daughter, Michelle knows that she has found her next business venture.

As implied above, putting all your eggs in one basket is a risk. One’s reaction to the film will depend almost exclusively on how you relate to Melissa McCarthy in it. She is a good physical comedienne, and there are a couple of unexpected prat falls in this that take you by surprise. The other types of humour are more hit and miss. As is now typical, there are potty-mouthed exchanges, but the shock value of such genteel characters swearing up a storm can only take us so far. The Boss has a couple of well-delivered comic set-ups. In other words, it has six or seven decent gags. Perhaps that is enough for a non-brain-stretching weekend outing with one’s crew.

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