Movie News & Reviews

New DVDs

“Divergent” (PG-13, 130 minutes, Lionsgate): It’s rare that a movie is as good as the book on which it’s based. It’s even more unusual when it’s better. With the film adaptation of “Divergent,” the first novel in Veronica Roth’s trilogy of dystopian thrillers, director Neil Burger (“Limitless”) has crafted a leaner, more propulsive and more satisfying film than the best-seller that inspired it. Screenwriters Evan Daugherty and Vanessa Taylor have cut the fat, picked up the pace and sharpened Roth’s themes celebrating individualism and ingenuity, which were muted in Roth’s somewhat sluggish and overlong telling. Daugherty and Taylor have even come up with an ending that more cleverly uses the story’s teenage heroine, Tris (Shailene Woodley), without changing the outcome. Contains violence, some obscenity and disturbing thematic material. Extras include commentary with Burger and producers Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher; deleted scenes.

“Need for Speed” (PG-13, 130 minutes, Disney): This piece of auto-collision pornography weighs down its car-flip-and-massive-fireball money shots with a preposterous plot involving vehicular manslaughter vengeance, a road trip that’s basically one long police chase and an illegal drag race orchestrated by Michael Keaton. Aaron Paul, this film’s star, should think more carefully about his post-“Breaking Bad” career choices. Contains sequences of reckless street racing, disturbing crash scenes, nudity and crude language.

“God’s Not Dead” (PG, 113 minutes, Pure Flix Entertainment): This independent Christian film did top-10 box-office business this spring, and its video pre-orders top Amazon’s faith and spirituality video offerings. It follows a devout Christian college freshman, Josh (Shane Harper), whose faith is challenged by a dogmatic professor. Josh sets about proving God’s existence, prompting a showdown with the nonbeliever. Contains some adult situations and parent-on-child violence.

Also: “Around the Block” (with Christina Ricci, Australia), “I'll Follow You Down” (sci-fi drama with Haley Joel Osment and Gillian Anderson, Well Go USA), “Anna” (starring Mark Strong and Taissa Farmiga, IFC Films), “Bicycling With Moliere” (France), “More Than the Rainbow” (documentary on New York street photographer Matt Weber) and “Dream Deceivers: The Story Behind James Vance vs. Judas Priest” (1992, documentary