Neil Burger

Maggie Q and Shailene Woodley in DIVERGENT

Let’s just get this out of the way. Divergent is not a good movie. And before you start lobbing accusations that YA adaptations never get a fair shake, know that the problem here isn’t that the film is aimed at teens. The issue is that the script, and presumably the source novel, are incredibly dumb. Post-war Chicago is a fractured place. It’s by design though as the survivors created a plan to ensure the people would never fight again. How? By crafting a system guaranteed to lead to war. Basically, everyone is born into one of five factions. Erudite is for brainiacs who look down their noses at those around them. Candor is for those who always tell the truth, a characteristic that we’re told (with a straight face) makes them the best lawyers. Dauntless are the parkour-loving punks who run and jump all over town while learning how to protect it from the possible threats beyond the great fence that surrounds the city. Amity are the peaceful farmers, a group apparently most notable for always being happy. Finally, Abnegation consists of the selfless, grey-wearing folk who give up mirror time in exchange for running the government. Beatrice (Shailene Woodley) is Abnegation born, but her heart belongs with the free-runners so she chooses Dauntless and changes her name to Tris. Her test results were inconclusive though, an outcome known as Divergent and something she has to keep secret. This essentially means she has varied interests and common sense enough to […]

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DIVERGENT

The next big YA franchise set to hit the big screen won’t arrive in theaters for nearly four months, but its director has already taken himself out of consideration for any sequels. The shoot was that fun, huh? Variety reports that director Neil Burger will not return to direct another Divergent film, the burgeoning film franchise based on Veronica Roth’s popular series that will star Shailene Woodley in its lead role. The first film in the series is already set to arrive in theaters on March 21 of next year, and Lionsgate has already lined up a similar release date for the second film in the series, Insurgent, which will hit screens on March 20, 2015 and the third film, Allegiant, which is now set for a March 18, 2016 release. Burger, however, will not be directing that second feature (and will not return for subsequent entries in the series). One of the reasons why Burger might not returning could be due to the fast turnaround time necessary to keep the franchise ticking along – Burger is reportedly in post-production on the first film and the second one requires a production start sometime next spring. That’s, well, a lot of moviemaking to cram into a relatively short amount of time (and that’s not even considering the huge press and publicity tour that Divergent will undoubtedly get). So if Burger is out, who is going to be in?

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DIVERGENT

If you are not of the YA set and have never heard of Neil Burger‘s Divergent before the teaser trailer surfaced several days ago, fear not, because the cast and creators of the film are here to explain you a thing. This isn’t The Hunger Games. Oh no, this isn’t The Host. Or Twilight. Or Harry Potter. And don’t you dare compare it to Mortal Instruments: City of Bones: Bonetropolis: Thunderbone. Divergent is based on a YA novel by Veronica Roth, set in the wondrous dystopian future Chicago (they don’t all have to be mystical lands), where society is now divided into five factions based on your personality. But then there’s Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley), who is categorized as “divergent” – meaning she can’t be put in one of your societal boxes, man. And that makes her a threat. Check out the featurette for yourself:

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SHAILENE WOODLEY stars in DIVERGENT

One of the more useless trends to come around in the past few years is the “trailer for a trailer.” Trailers themselves are little teases for a film; a tease for a tease is redundant and unsatisfyingly brief. So it’s not super-surprising that the teaser for Divergent is pretty much useless. There’s so much to absorb here: multiple close-ups of Shailene Woodley, wide-eyed and vaguely upset. Someone takes an elbow to the face. Someone else gets flipped upside-down. The film’s name is mentioned, and then Woodley leaps a small gap in slow-motion. The end. Ideally, we’d be tiny glimpses of some nifty effects or set pieces that the trailer would showcase in far grander detail, but the only thing here that raises even the slightest bit of curiosity is some guy waving around some sort of fire-whip glow stick. The full trailer for Divergent premieres at the MTV Video Music Awards this Sunday, but it seems highly unlikely that seeing more of Divergent will be stirring up any real hype. Check it out below, and learn from Divergent‘s example: this is not the way to tease a film.

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DIVERGENT

As Hollywood’s love affair with popular YA properties grinds relentlessly on, we’re doomed to be inundated with a whole mess of stories asking if the newest something or other is “the next Twilight” or “the newest Hunger Games” (hey, sometimes we wonder about it too), but easy associations aside, there really are some great teen-focused adaptations hitting the big screen soon. We promise. Fine, maybe we’re just talking about the cinematic version of Veronica Roth‘s three-book “Divergent” series, which will kick off next year with the release of the currently-filming Divergent, but Roth’s future-set and vividly imagined series is one of the best we’ve read recently, and we’re pretty highly anticipating it. Even better? The film stars Shailene Woodley in a role that has “starmaker” written all over it (if this summer’s The Spectacular Now doesn’t already accomplish that for her). Woodley stars as Tris Prior, resident of a future Chicago where all residents (and its a slim bunch, thanks to some sort of event that seemingly wiped out most of the world) have been divided into very different factions. Despite growing up in the Abnegation faction, Tris discovers that she’s (dun-dun-DUH!!!) “divergent,” someone who doesn’t neatly fit into just one faction. With an annual event that lets teenagers pick a new faction coming up, Tris is faced with a big choice. Oh, and discovering that being divergent is dangerous isn’t helping things. The film is filming in Chicago now, so we’ve been treated to a few looks at the production already, but today brings a new batch […]

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Recent months have been very kind to the career of young actress Shailene Woodley. Not only did she make herself ridiculously famous basically overnight by standing toe-to-toe with George Clooney in Alexander Payne’s The Descendants, but recently she signed on to play the very high profile role of Mary Jane Watson in Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man sequel. This freight train of success isn’t stopping with acclaimed dramas and big comic book blockbusters, however, because Heat Vision is reporting that Woodley is now closing in on a deal to star in the next big YA adaptation, Divergent. Divergent, if you’ll remember, is the first adaptation of a planned trilogy of Veronica Roth novels, and is set to be directed by Neil Burger (The Illusionist). Amazon’s description of Roth’s novel gives the story the following synopsis:

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Uncharted

Ever since Neil Burger became attached to helm Uncharted well over a year ago there hasn’t been much movement on bringing the game to the big screen. With that lack of development, it comes to no surprise that, according to Variety, Burger has left the project. The reason for Burger’s departure is unclear, although it was reported hours before this news the Limitless director may adapt Divergent for Summit. Unfortunately, Burger isn’t the only loss the project has faced today, as screenwriting duo Cormac and Marianne Wibberley have signed on to handle scripting duties. For those of you unfamiliar with the Wibberley’s writings, they worked on The Shaggy Dog, I Spy, The 6th Day, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, and, of course, Disney’s hamster epic, G-Force. There’s not a whole lot of impressive adventure in those films to prove they can handle Uncharted, but the duo was most likely hired because of their work on the National Treasure series. They’re about as safe as a pick can get. What’s most disheartening about this news is the downgrade from David O. Russell, an Oscar nominee, to the writers behind bland, middle-of-the-road action films. Russell’s script was considered “epic” and “ambitious,” something that apparently frightened Sony. With work-for-hires like the Wibberleys, they most likely won’t have to worry about that.

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Neil Burger and Divergent

While it’s easy to scoff and snipe at the recent explosion of young adult novels making it to the big screen, it’s also a huge mistake to do so. Of course The Twilight Saga is to be thanked (blamed?) for said explosion, but not every YA book slated to get a cinematic translation is Twilight – in fact, most of them aren’t. Case in point: Veronica Roth’s “Divergent” series. The planned three-book series is already two books down (that would be 2011’s “Divergent” and 2012’s “Insurgent”) with the final one on the way in the fall of next year (while it’s currently nameless, it would be insane to think it won’t be called “Resurgent”). Summit Entertainment snapped up the rights to “Divergent” before the book even hit shelves (and they also own the rights to “Insurgent,” wily beasts), and now it looks like they’re really getting a move on when it comes to getting their next big series to theaters. Variety reports (via The Playlist) that director Neil Burger is “in early talks” to helm the first feature, Divergent, which is set to come with a script by Snow White and the Huntsman scribe Evan Daugherty, who was hired last summer. Burger last directed the Bradley Cooper-starring Limitless and he’s been attached to such hot-but-maybe-never-happening properties like Uncharted and a new Bonnie and Clyde in recent months. Though Summit won’t comment on the report, sources tell Variety that Burger “edged out several high-profile filmmakers” for the gig. But if there’s one […]

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The 1964 film version of Bonnie and Clyde is widely considered a modern classic and one of the jumping off points for the new Hollywood of the 60s and 70s. Do we really need another Bonnie and Clyde movie then, since we already had one that did things so well? Of course we do, we need a new version of everything. And this one might not actually be so bad, because instead of being a similarly romantic take on the story of the lovebird outlaws, this new proposed project is going to be based on a more real life take on the duo.

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If you love video games and hate David O. Russell, then boy do I have some good news for you. You might have to help me on this one, I don’t really know video games, and I’m not sure what “Uncharted” is all about. But it was my understanding from being around a lot of movie buzz that fans weren’t too happy with Mark Wahlberg starring as Uncharted’s protagonist Nathan Drake. And I also heard some rumblings that O. Russell was taking the property in his own direction and not paying much heed to the source material. While that might have made a good movie, it wouldn’t have done much for video game fans. They need not worry though, because O. Russell is out, Limitless director Neil Burger is in, and it looks like this entire video game to movie adaptation process is starting over.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr starts a new regimen of drugs that comes in a clear little pill. The guy on the street corner told him that it would unlock the full potential of his mind, and he assured Kevin it was FDA approved. Why would this guy lie to him? While waiting for the drugs to kick in, Kevin decided to take a trip across the American southwest and search for skinny little aliens with fat man voices. He knows he’s safe, even if he’s picked up by the cops, because he’s retained a dead-sexy lawyer who runs his practice out of the back of his Lincoln Town Car.

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With any luck, the Holistic Healing League (which I just made up) will be boycotting Limitless in no time. The idea is shockingly simple – a man starts taking a pill that opens up the rest of his mental faculties to his use. He’s a medicated genius, and he uses that genius for personal gain. Then, Robert De Niro gets pissed about it. The lesson here is that as long as drugs are FDA-approved, they’re totally kosher to take (unless De Niro gets mad at you, then you should stop immediately). So remember, kids, don’t do drugs except the ones your government tells you are A-Okay. Limitless stars De Niro, Bradley Cooper, and Abbie Cornish. It was directed by The Illusionist director Neil Burger, and it will see theaters March 18, 2011. Check out the even higher res version of the trailer at Apple.

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secretofNIMH

Neil Burger is being tapped to write the script to bring the rats of NIMH and Mrs. Frisby back to the big screen.

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bride-of-frankeinstein

You’d think that Universal was either (a) in some financial trouble that required safe brand decisions or (b) completely out of good ideas, but I have a feeling that they just see a market for bringing back all of their iconic monsters from back in the day, just because.

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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
B+


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