of Mind and Music

by ChristianCinema.com
PG-13
97 min

A lyrical and extraordinarily beautiful story woven together by the music that permeates New Orleans and the jazz that made it famous.

Renowned Neuroscientist Dr. Alvaro Cruz (Joaquím De Almeida) returns home from a lecture in Paris and in his absence his mother has succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease.   As he decides to take some time off work and reconnect with the love of music he shared with his mother, finding solace in New Orleans’ French Quarter, he hears the mesmerizing voice of Una Vida (Aunjanue Ellis). After repeat visits to hear her sing, he realizes that she is suffering from Alzheimer’s and that her unconventional “family,” including fellow musician (Bill Cobbs), cannot cope with her declining health.   Cruz puzzles his wife, Angela (Sharon Lawrence), by seeking out Una Vida’s long lost son in hopes of finally giving her resolution to the grief, loss and longing that has overshadowed her difficult but also beautiful life.

Beyond The Mask

PG
104 min
ChristianCinema.com

The leading mercenary for the British East India Company, Will Reynolds has just been double-crossed and now is on the run in the American Colonies. Working to redeem his name and win back the affections of the woman with whom he’s never been fully truthful, Will now hides behind a new mask in hopes of thwarting his former employer. As his past life closes in on him, Will must somehow gain the trust and the help of his beloved Charlotte – as well as Ben Franklin – while he races against time to defuse a plot of historical proportions.

A revolutionary new family film that brings history to life in a faith-filled adventure celebrating grace, liberty, and the true freedom that can only be found in Christ.

2016 GOLD Crown Award Winner for Best Youth Film!
2016 SILVER Crown Award Winner for Best Picture!
2016 BRONZE Crown Award Winner for Best Evangelistic Film!

The Age of Adaline

By Plugged In
Content Caution

Getting some shifty soul to forge yet another set of fake identification documents has become old hat for Adaline Bowman. … Or, wait, it’s Jennifer Larson these days.

No, she’s not a government agent or an international spy. Just a gentle, soft-spoken woman who every 10 years or so must uproot and retool her life, slipping into a different world and a different set of labels. Why? Well, if any curious sort ever caught a glimpse of all her passports and driver’s licenses the only sure thing they’d notice is that with each new name, each new birth date, the woman originally named Adaline always looks exactly the same. In the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, all the way up to 2014, she’s consistently been a lovely and timeless 29.

Adaline, you see, does not age.

If that same curious passport glimpser also laid his hands on the right microfilm newspaper copy or set of sepia-toned photographs, or if he happened upon the right vintage, early 20th-century newsreel, he might piece together that this beautiful young woman began a unique journey nearly 80 years back.

It was 1935 when she accidentally ran her automobile off an icy road and wound up unconscious and immersed in a freezing river. In the next few moments her body temperature plummeted and her heart slowed to a stop. It was a blazing bolt of lightning that jumpstarted her back to life, somehow permanently changing her body chemistry in the process and making her “immune to the ravages of time.”

Now, some would say such a thing must be a miraculous boon. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, they’d muse, to stay perpetually young and beautiful? To have all the time in the world? For Adaline, though, it isn’t quite such a charming gift.

Yes, she’s traveled, experienced much and grown intellectually over the years. But having perpetual youth also means there are those who would make her into little more than a test-tube project if they could. And while working to avoid that crowd, she’s often had to watch her daughter from a distance as the child turned from girl to gorgeous to gray. For that matter, every possibility of friendship or, worse, love must sensibly be kept as a fleeting, casual thing. Just watching her beloved pets grow old and die is painful enough.

Still, there are times when even her keep-everyone-at-a-distance wariness cannot stop someone special from slipping in from the edges of her life, men drawn to her unique beauty, depth and wisdom like moths to a flame. And it’s at those times that Adaline sheds a tear—weeping as one blessed and cursed in equal measure.

Positive Elements

Ellis is one of those special people who worms his way into Adaline’s agelessness. He’s handsome, charming and consumed with the things of history. He’s also willing to turn his life upside down for this enchanting woman he’s found. The two fall in love and each wants to do what’s best for the other, even though the ultimate choice they face may be difficult.

We find out that Ellis’ father, William, also had a passionate love in the past. And though he still holds strong feelings for the woman he once knew, he’s willing to do what’s right—including pushing those feelings aside and proclaiming his love for his wife of 40 years.

The love between Adaline and her daughter, Flemming, has stayed strong for over 70 years, even though they’ve at times been forced apart.

Spiritual Content

Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that “God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” This movie, perhaps unintentionally, will trigger all sorts of thoughts and discussions about what it is to live as the grass does, here today and gone tomorrow, and how so much of what we know of our own spiritual identity would change if we did indeed live forever here on this earth.

We see a quick shot of Adaline getting married in a church.

Sexual Content

Although Adaline has become increasingly cautious about becoming entangled in long-term relationships, it’s implied that she’s been intimate with several men since her accident. We see her and Ellis in bed together twice (dressed either in bed clothes or covered by a sheet). We also see them kiss on several occasions. And in a flashback we see her sitting in the dark on a bed next to another young man.

Adaline wears a few dresses that expose a bit of cleavage. Ellis steps out of a shower wrapped in nothing but a towel.

Violent Content

As already described, a car crashes through a guardrail on a winter’s night and Adaline drowns in a freezing lake before being shocked back to life by a stray lightning strike. In another similar accident a car is struck by a truck and a person is ejected from the vehicle and left bleeding by the side of the road where she’s shocked back to life by a defibrillator.

Adaline’s hand is slashed open in a hiking accident. We see the bleeding wound getting stitched up.

Crude or Profane Language

One s-word, one “h—” and one combination of “God” and “d–n.” Characters exclaim “oh my god!” three or four times.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Wine and hard liquor slosh around at two New Year’s Eve parties, several dinners and other social gatherings. Adaline swigs booze as a painkiller at one point. In flashback scenes, characters smoke. William smokes a pipe.

Other Negative Elements

Adaline illegally procures her false identities as she hides away from the prying eyes of the government. She steals Ellis’ car.

Conclusion

The Age of Adaline is a high-concept romance that mixes almost sci-fi levels of broad fantasy with the heartthrob sensibilities of something like a Nicholas Sparks novel.

On the positive side, that means it’s at times both introspective and visually impressive. While looking back through history and musing over the idea of perpetual youth and everlasting beauty, the film suggests that such a fantastic existence would likely be a lonely one, creating an environment in which there would be no chance of experiencing the relational oomph of growing old with someone you dearly loved. Or, as William laments to Adaline after finding out her secret, “For all those years you’ve lived, you’ve never had a life.”

On the other hand, the film also celebrates less thoughtful convictions, especially when it tells us that “true love” and casual hops into the sack are a natural and timeless combination. And when you blend in all the other lesser moments of easy predictability and even occasional eye-roll-worthy silliness, well, the result seems a tad less ageless.

The Hobbit Director Talks

The Hobbit director talks to us as he wraps up two decades of storytelling

As he wraps up nigh-on two decades of Middle Earth storytelling, The Hobbitdirector Peter Jackson answers questions from some of his most famous collaborators. This is a longer version of the interview that appears in Time Out Beijing’s January issue.

Could Peter Jackson look any less like one of the most powerful men in movies? He’s dug out a rumpled shirt from the back of the wardrobe because we’re taking his picture today. And he’s no fan of shoes – ‘I only wore them today because there’s a bloody photo shoot!’

Yet there’s no mistaking his influence: the 53-year-old New Zealander is the man Hollywood trusted with 1 billion USD to make trilogies of JRR Tolkien’sThe Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit novels.

Each of the five films so far has trousered in the region of $1 billion at the box office. Along the way Peter Jackson made beardy fantasy stories cool again (no Lord of the Rings, no Game of Thrones). He’s also turned New Zealand into the world centre for special effects (not to mention shooting it to the top of nerds’ dream holiday destinations).

You can praise or blame Jackson for another milestone too: making epically long blockbuster bum-numbers the norm. All in all, his The Lord of the Ringsand The Hobbit movies, six in total, add up to over 17 hours of storytelling – and that’s before the director’s cuts…

Peter Jackson 27Today, Jackson is knackered. The premiere of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is looming and he has been working round the clock to finish the film. We meet at a post-production studio on a crumbling industrial estate near Pinewood Studios on the very edge of London – he has a house near here and is lying low between until the premiere.

His voice is deep and throaty, like he’s fighting off a cold, as he collapses into a sofa with a mug of tea – bag in – resting on his knee. Jackson instantly perks up answering the questions we’ve gathered from the actors who’ve worked alongside him and who know him best, including Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins) and Andy Serkis (Gollum).

When I mention that the Time Out team has just been watching the new ‘Star Wars’ trailer while we’ve been waiting, he begs me to say no more: he’s saving it for later. He truly is the movie geek’s movie geek.

So, exactly 15 years ago you were in New Zealand shooting the ‘Lord of the Rings’ films. Here we are, a decade and half later and you’ve finished the third and final ‘The Hobbit’ film. Did you throw a party?

Yeah, we only finished tweaking it a week ago. We worked around the clock, 20 or 22 hours a day. The last day lasted 40 hours straight with no sleep. The team around me came on shifts, in and out, and I just sat there. Then a man in a white suit comes and takes it away from you! Did I celebrate? You just go home and sleep!

Are you happy with it?

It’s my favourite of the three. It’s a thriller. Each film has its own vibe – even though I made them all at the same time. Each one has a personality, like when you have three children. They may all come from the same gene pool but they have distinct little characters. This one is definitely the thriller.

Ian McKellen: Do you think the Tolkien Estate would ever permit a Middle Earth playground of some sort – a theme park like the Harry Potter one in Florida? If so, having kept so many of the films’ props and costumes, might you want to be the curator or designer of such a place?

Ha! I think the answer’s probably no. I don’t think they have any desire to see a Middle Earth theme park. I mean I’ve kept a lot of the costumes and props just because I always do on my movies. I’m a magpie. I’m a collector. I like to hang on to stuff.

I don’t think a theme park will ever exist but who knows.

Richard Armitage: Pete, this question is about hoarding and treasure! Having spent some precious times with you I know you are an avid collector of movie and war memorabilia. Of all the things you have collected, which is your most treasured?

The favourite thing I’ve got is the original armature [stop-motion creature model] from the 1933 “King Kong” movie. I got it at Christie’s auction some years ago. It’s in storage. I’ve got a little collection of stuff like that. I have them in a secure storeroom away from my house but they are laid out like a little museum.

So when people come we can give them little private tours. The armature’s got pride of place. The only people who get to go round there are people who I think will actually appreciate it. Just a few people.

Will you ever make any of this stuff more public?

Well, one of the things I want to do in the new year is focus on getting a little film museum going down in New Zealand. Not just stuff from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit but a general movie museum with memorabilia. In a way, my next project isn’t really a film, it’s getting this museum going.

GandalfIan McKellen: If you ever had to leave New Zealand permanently, where would you be happiest?

Oh God, I don’t know. Maybe the UK. I do have an affinity for the UK. I mean my parents are from Britain. Certainly not America. I’m much more of a UK-oriented person than I am a US one, I’m sure you know what I mean. It’s the lifestyle. I’m much more into the British lifestyle than the American lifestyle.

Ian McKellen: Do you have a favourite shooting location out of the six films?

I do, and it’s a place I don’t think Ian McKellen ever went to. It’s called Poolburn Dam and it’s where we shot Rohan. It’s in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), and it’s where Aragorn and Legolas are running around trying to hunt down Pippin and Merry who have been kidnapped.

It’s sort of rolling prairie land with big rock formations. It’s just a great location. You can’t see a single house for bloody 360 degrees. It’s a vast, epic landscape of emptiness, and it’s quite evocative. So that was my favourite, yeah.

Martin Freeman: Was it a difficult decision to take over the helm for The Hobbit from Guillermo del Toro?

[‘Pacific Rim’ director Del Toro pulled out of directing ‘The Hobbit’ in 2010.] Oh, and thanks for an amazing couple of years.

Yeah, it was difficult. It was never part of the plan. Guillermo was going to direct the movies and we were going to produce them.

HobbitSo Fran [Walsh, his wife and co-writer and producer] and I had other films that we were thinking of making. I know Guillermo would have made something very, very interesting. But beyond Guillermo I didn’t really have another director I felt comfortable with. It was easier for me to jump in.

The irony was that once I jumped in I was incredibly happy. It was really the most fun I’ve had making a movie. It truly was. I also learned a lot. The Hobbit was the time when I felt I came of age as a filmmaker. So I’m really grateful for it. I’m rearing to make other films. I’m in the zone now.

Stephen Fry: When are we going to start on Dambusters?

Well, we have started on Dambusters as Stephen and I wrote a script for it a while ago. I love the 1950s British World War Two genre. That was one of the movies on the list that I was intending to get made while Guillermo del Toro was doing The Hobbit, so hopefully within the next year or so.

If you wouldn’t mind just passing that on to Stephen please? He can read it here!

Evangeline Lilly: What’s the worst thing about wearing shoes?

Normally I don’t wear shoes. They’re just uncomfortable. I don’t like wearing them at all. But socially you’ve got to wear them, on red carpets and in restaurants. I’m not that much of a rebel. I also wear them on set because it’s too dangerous. If someone dropped a piece of equipment on my toe there would be all sorts of insurance complications. Evangeline doesn’t wear shoes when she’s off set. So that makes two of us.

Evangeline Lilly: How do you grow the best earlobes on earth?

This needs explaining. Evangeline has a very strange tendency to want to massage your earlobes.

You’ll have to ask her for further information as to why, but she used to like massaging my earlobes a lot. I’ve got to say, it felt quite nice.

Do you still get a kick out of knowing how many people are watching your films?

Yep! I think it’s pretty exciting, hugely exciting! Thrilling. Especially having been brought up in the low-budget splatter genre, where you’re making films for a limited audience.

When I go round the world now and I look up and there’s a poster for one of my films, I think: God, do these people actually go and see my movies? Wow. It’s hard to connect to that. And you can’t make a movie by committee – especially a committee of 25 million people or however many. You have to make it for yourself and hope other people trust your instincts.

Stephen Fry: Tell everyone about the blood ’n’ gore days of Bad Taste (1987) and Braindead (1992). Do you miss that kind of kitchen-table filmmaking?

Maybe it’s not true, but the way I made The Hobbit is not that different from those films, so I don’t miss it so much. Stephen would be very surprised if he was a fly on the wall back in the old days – a lot of the conversations were very similar.

The stakes go up a bit because the budgets get bigger and the responsibility gets larger, but if Stephen was on the set of Braindead he would recognise it in a second. The vibe on set was very similar to The Hobbit.

Didn’t someone try to ban you from the UK back then?

Yeah, with Meet the Feebles (1989)! There were calls from someone to ban me from the country. I think it was from a film critic actually! Guess what, I snuck in anyway!

GollumAndy Serkis: If you could confront and defeat any tyrant in history, literature, cinema or popular culture who would it be?

It’s a very tricky thing, isn’t it? Obviously Hitler would be at the top of the list. If you could nip that in the bud, the world would be a much better place today. But it’s not something I really think about, I must say!

That question tells you more about Andy than it does about me! It must be something that he dwells on quite a lot!

Do you think The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit changed what we expect from movies?

I don’t know, I can’t really answer that. I certainly hope one day that some filmmaker, a reasonably well-known filmmaker will come up to me and say: ‘Hey, I’m only doing this because I saw The Lord of the Rings or whatever when I was seven years old…’

I met Fay Wray, the actress from King Kong, when she was in her nineties just before she died. I was able to say to her: I’m only doing what I’m doing because of seeing your film that you made in 1933. That was a pretty weird experience.

Benedict Cumberbatch: What are you most proud of?

Oh god, I hate those sorts of questions! Well, I’m most proud of entertaining people. That’s ultimately what I do, it’s not like I make any bones about it. The business I’m in is the entertainment industry, and there’s nothing romantic about it.

I have to entertain people, which I love doing anyway. But Warner Brothers expect me to entertain people, otherwise they’re going to lose their money! But what I’m personally proud of is when people are clearly enjoying something you’ve made – when you’ve successfully taken people away from their normal lives and their stresses and you’ve let people had some escapism for an hour or two… Or three in my case! Ha!

Some of the world’s biggest filmmakers – Steven Spielberg, James Cameron – come to you for advice or help. How does that feel?

That’s one of the perks if you’re lucky: to collaborate with the people you grew up admiring. They were the ones that inspired me. I said to Steven: I’m the perfect age, I’m the clichéd version of not wanting to go into the water when I was 12, 13 years old because of Jaws!

I lived by the beach and every summer we used to go swimming for months. And in 1974 my Christmas was ruined because of bloody Jaws!

When you meet people like Steven and Jim Cameron, you understand that they’re the same as I am. They’re not any different. They’re just big kids, big geeks. We’re all just geeks, that’s all we are.

Benedict Cumberbatch: Are you sick of being asked questions?

Well, to tell you the truth, right now I’m not. You’re just about the first person to interview me about this new The Hobbit movie.

If you asked me in two weeks’ time, after the premiere and everything, the answer would definitely be yes! At the moment, truthfully, no!

You’ve made one of the most successful franchises ever and realised a lifelong ambition. What’s left?

One of the things I’m thinking about now is the future of entertainment. One hundred years from now, what’s it going to be like? I haven’t a clue. What interests me is augmented reality and virtual reality. Not so much virtual reality like putting on headsets and entering another world. It’s more that you put on glasses, go out the door and there are zombies walking around.

Peter Jackson 17

You’ve got a plastic gun and you’re chasing them around. That’s kind of interesting. Ten years from now it’ll be everywhere. It’s not gaming, it’s a form of entertainment that doesn’t exist yet. I’m interested in putting my brain into that – when my brain cells have recharged a bit.

Home

By Plugged In
Content Caution

What makes someplace a home?

From the perspective of the little six-legged space aliens called the Boov, that’s a difficult question to answer. They seem to be eternally on the run—from planet to planet and solar system to solar system—in constant dread of their mortal enemy, the Gorg. So, finding a place to settle down isn’t easy. As their beloved leader, Captain Smek, is so fond of saying, “It’s never too late … to run away.”

The one thing that these squishy multicolored minions have in their favor, however, is some pretty cool, high-powered, planet-clearing technology. If they do happen to come upon a potential new home world while zipping to and fro, why, they can clear it out in a New Boov Minute.

Take this planet they just discovered called “Earth.” It’s something of a fixer-upper, but it’ll work. All they have to do is levitate and relocate the backward and simple creatures that currently populate the place: bipedal thingamajigs called “humans.”

And just to show you how benevolent and thoughtful the Boov are, they even build these strange savages a new place to live. It’s a community filled with merry-go-rounds and free cotton candy. They call it Happy Human Town. Granted, packing 7 billion sweaty natives into what used to be Australia is kind of tight but, hey, the Boov’ll throw in free ice cream, too.

Uh-oh. There’s one lone human who escaped the relocation effort. She’s a rebellious teen named Gratuity Tucci (Tip for short). Like the Boov, she’s starting to wonder about the meaning of home, too. Squirreled away in her apartment building while the aliens were clearing out the city, she got passed over. The comforts of home are all around her, but with her mom gone, home just isn’t home anymore.

Even as she prepares to set out in search of her mom, though, Tip isn’t quite sure how to proceed. And then she stumbles upon a particular Boov who just might help. He’s something of an outcast misfit, just like her. He’s known as Oh, because whenever he stumbles and bumbles his way onto the scene, the other Boov can’t help but groan, “Ohhhh.”

So Oh’s on the run, just like Tip. He made the biggest mistake of his life recently, accidently sending out an Evite for his house-warming party—to the entire universe. Gulp. If the Gorg decide to RSVP, well, raising the roof might take on a whole new meaning.

But all is not lost quite yet. Perhaps together this unlikely duo might be able to set things right. If they can learn to help each other and maybe even like each other, then they have a shot.

Positive Elements

The little Boov Oh is pretty typical of his kind, putting survival over everything else—including relationships and commitments. In fact, Oh makes mention of the Boov’s core belief that if the probability of an endeavor’s success is less than 50%, one should always give up. But through Tip’s consistent sacrifice and loyalty he comes to understand that living up to your promises is essential, and that taking chances to help those you care about—even when the odds are against you—is often necessary.

Oh also realizes that Captain Smek’s low assessment of mankind was a lie. “Humans are not simple and backward,” he reports as he apologizes to Tip for his past choices. We find out that the Boov are hatched and don’t have families. “No wonder you take things and don’t care about others,” Tip reasons. She makes it very clear that “you don’t leave family!” And another character’s dogged determination points to the value of family as well.

Sexual Content

When a Boov stumbles into Tip’s homemade trap, he’s hit with dirty laundry, makeup and glitter—leaving him covered in pink and wearing a sparkly bra on his head.

Violent Content

Captain Smek threatens to have Oh “erased.” Gorg ships fire at Oh and Tip and some terrorized Boov. And the baddies begin to crumble our planet’s surface with gigantic earthmovers. Oh steps forward and it looks like he gets squashed by one of those machines. (He doesn’t really.) In the course of running from pursuers, Oh and Tip cause all manner of slapstick destruction, including smashing vehicles and buildings. Smek regularly bonks Oh and others on the head with his staff that he calls the “shusher.”

Crude or Profane Language

Name-calling includes Tip labeling Oh a “lying fart face.”

Drug and Alcohol Content

None.

Other Negative Elements

Potty humor gags range from levitated commodes to Oh biting into a blue urinal tablet (offscreen), brushing his teeth with a toilet brush and musing about the difference between “going” number one, number two or number three. Tip and Oh talk about taking a “pee break” while traveling and about Oh’s “Boov butt.”

Captain Smek steals something valuable from the Gorg. Oh lies on a number of occasions—moments that are very clear to Tip and the audience because the Boov turn green when they fib.

Conclusion

Early on, the Boov blunderer Oh accurately describes his fellows as the “best species ever … at running away.” So it would make sense, then, that families should start running away from this animated alien flick, right?

Well, maybe not so fast.

Sure, the movie’s a tad derivative. It’s packed with enough toilet bowl giggles to make even an 8-year-old boy roll his eyes. And if you find actor Jim Parson’s TV role on The Big Bang Theory just the least bit irritating, you’re gonna quickly tire of his little English-mangling alien guy here.

But Home has its bubble-eyed sweet side. In the midst of fast-paced antics and pratfalls, tykes will find some solid encouragement to look beneath the surface and seek out the heart and unique qualities of the “misfits” around them. They’ll also find themselves thinking that sometimes a little extra bravery is required if you want to do right by those you love. And if Mom or Dad want to bring it up, there’s even a subtle statement here about the potentially isolating nature of social media—especially when compared to the joy of really plugging in with family and friends.

Insurgent

By Plugged In
Content Caution

It’s nice to know your place in the world. Or so Tris imagines. After all, she’s has never had that comfort—even in a dystopian world where everyone’s supposed to know their place.

Insurgent’s society—set in the decaying, fenced-off city of Chicago—has been split into five factions: Abnegation (where the selfless folks go), Amity (peaceful farmers), Candor (honest judges), Dauntless (for the courageous and athletic), and Erudite (the smart ones). But even though Tris was raised in the Abnegation faction and was accepted into Dauntless, she never felt wholly at home in either place. That’s because she is, it turns out, Divergent—a blend of characteristics from more than one faction.

Divergents fall outside the norm. They’re impossible to control. And, according to Jeanine (who leads the new ruling faction, Erudite), that makes them dangerous. So Jeanine’s got plans to take care of the Divergent problem … once and for all.

Tris and her Divergent beau, Four, are well aware of Jeanine’s chilling plan. So they’re on the lam, constantly dodging their adversary’s overzealous Dauntless stormtroopers. They soon discover that many of their society’s so-called Factionless folks—other disenfranchised souls who don’t fit this dystopian society’s neat categories—are arming for revolt. And the rebellion’s being led by none other than Four’s own mother.

Hundreds of soldiers, it turns out, remain loyal to Four, a brave former Dauntless leader. And the populace is growing increasingly agitated by Jeanine’s overreach. In fact, it looks as if the whole faction system may be gasping its last. If Tris and her kind can’t fit into this version of civilization, maybe they can make their own.

But Jeanine still has an ace to play.

Centuries before, the society’s founders left a box with a secret message inside, a box that can only be opened by a Divergent. Jeanine assumes that it’ll contain something she can use against her category-busting foes, some horrid proof that they’re the bane of existence, a bit of propaganda to throw in their faces, something. Once that little box is unscrewed, Jeanine believes, she’ll have all the moral authority she needs to make everything all nice and neat and, most importantly, Divergent-free.

Alas, the box keeps killing the Divergents she sends to deal with it. Maybe, Jeanine reasons, just maybe she needs someone who’s an especially extra-divergent Divergent to pry the thing open.

Someone, like … I dunno, Tris?

Positive Elements

Tris is indeed the key to the box, as she embodies the strengths of all five factions. But her self-sacrificial nature is perhaps her most striking character trait. When Jeanine’s government puts innocent lives in jeopardy, Tris is willing to lay her own life down for the greater good. When she’s given opportunity to kill a hated traitor, she passes, letting the guy live (and giving him the opportunity to perform his own good deed a little later). She may be fiercely angry and deeply hurt, but her overriding motivation is love—love for Four, for her family, for the outcast people she feels compelled to protect.

If Tris feels responsible for, well, almost everybody, Four takes on Tris as his responsibility. He’s determined to help her survive and thrive. When an mob of Factionless argue that it’d be best to turn Tris over to Jeanine, Four says they’ll have to go through him first. People quip that Four is Tris’ “angry boyfriend,” but it’s a righteous, protective anger, and he clearly gives his all for her.

Meanwhile, Johanna, leader of Amity, protects Tris, Four and others as long as she’s able, even as she stays true to her own values. “I will not be a party to violence,” she says. Jack Kang, head of Candor, puts Tris and Four on trial for alleged crimes against the Abnegation faction, but helps them once he’s determined that they’re innocent. Help sometimes comes from other unexpected places, too. And even though she died in Divergent, Tris’ mother still proves to be a kind, loving influence.

Spiritual Content

One of the central conflicts in the film has to do with Tris’ guilt for her parents’ deaths. Though she’s clearly not, she feels responsible, and she struggles to let go of her guilt. Johanna counsels, “To be Amity is to forgive, others and yourself.” I’ll note that Tris sees her mother again in the context of dreams and, most critically, in a virtual reality test. During the test, she confesses her deepest fears to her mom and tells her how much she misses her. “I’m still with you,” her mother replies. During a lie detector test at Candor headquarters, Jack Kang echoes John 8:32 when he repeatedly says, “May the truth set you free.”

Sexual Content

Tris and Four, it seems, have sex. They kiss while sitting on a bed. Both remove their shirts (revealing her bare back and a bit of her torso), and we see a bit of their foreplay (kissing, clutching, etc.) and them asleep afterwards. The two lovers kiss and caress elsewhere, too, and are seen lying in the same bed, Four’s arms draped around Tris’ chest as they sleep together. (Both are clothed.) Tris (and other women) wear cleavage-baring and curve-hugging outfits; she’s seen in a nightgown. We also glimpse Tris’ bare shoulders as she showers.

Violent Content

The world of Insurgent is essentially a world at war, with much of the violence that suggests. But some of the most intense conflicts take place within virtual reality simulations that draw from combatants’ own fears, relationships and memories.

The VR procedure involves cords snaking through a hole in the ceiling, and needles at the cord tips stabbing into Divergents’ bodies, injecting powerful drugs and transmitting information to onlooking Erudites. The subject is then lifted by the cords into the air, where sometimes he or she shudders and shakes while facing various mind-game trials and tribulations. The process causes trauma severe enough to cause blood to ooze out of noses and ears. And it’s almost always fatal; we watch one doomed Divergent die with a sudden snap. When we see inside these ominous, drug-induced dreamscapes, we see such things as a flaming building flying through the air while someone’s trapped inside. There are shootouts and fistfights.

Back in the real world, several people are executed at gunpoint. Tris puts a pistol to her head and threatens to kill herself to foil Jeanine’s plans. Others who have been injected with mind-control devices also try to commit suicide. (And one person succeeds, falling from a great height to her death.) Jeanine’s soldiers gun down a group of Candors, after which we see these victims lying, apparently lifeless, in rooms and hallways. [Spoiler Warning: They’re not dead, just drugged.] Tris, Four and Caleb (Tris’ brother) are shot at by soldiers and fight violently with Factionless rebels. Caleb seems to kill one, hitting him over and over with a pipe.

Legs are broken. Gun fights and fistfights proliferate, the former claiming many lives. One person’s face gets smashed against a glass wall, leaving his nose bloodied and a smear of red across the clear surface. Another’s face gets slashed with a knife. Four and Tris are injected with a truth serum, and we see the needle going into their necks. The serum causes tremendous pain if the subjects are disinclined to tell the truth. People talk about assassinating Jeanine.

Crude or Profane Language

Someone gets really close to saying the f-word. There are two s-words, and one or two each of “d–n” and “h—.”

Drug and Alcohol Content

As mentioned, injected drugs are used for a variety of purposes. Wine is served at a fancy dinner.

Other Negative Elements

Tris and others lie, and people betray their friends.

Conclusion

The Divergent Series: Insurgent is an inconsistent and sometimes pointlessly action-drenched movie that, frankly, doesn’t always make a lot of sense. It certainly doesn’t live up to the first Divergent film, which wasn’t completely coherent to begin with. And this isn’t just a plot and artistry judgment; the second installment is harsher in terms of content, too.

A relatively high body count includes characters who are essentially executed. And there’s the clear intimation that Tris and Four consummate their affection, pouring role model-endorsed fuel on the fire that is teens’ real-world sexual impulses.

At the same time, Tris also stands as an example of the beauty of diversity and the power of paradox. In her, we see a heroine who’s both strong and vulnerable, one who longs for peace but is still willing to fight for what is right. She embodies determination and insight and courage and grace and mercy all bound up together.

Focusing on that last item on the list, one of her enemies says Tris’ greatest weakness is her tendency to show mercy. Raised in Abnegation, Tris strives to save those who need saving—even if the cost is life itself. And the movie defies that foe, demonstrating that Tris’ desire to save and her willingness to sacrifice for others isn’t a weakness, but a strength. It also illustrates the importance of relinquishing guilt from the past, especially, in Tris’ case, when the things she feels guilty about weren’t really her fault to begin with.

These themes may sound familiar to Christians. And Veronica Roth, author of The Divergent Series, is reported to be among that number. So perhaps it should be expected that we see mercy, sacrifice and forgiveness become important parts of this series. But are they enough to compensate for or redeem Insurgent’s content issues?