- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Viewers get a look at a dystopian future and a regal past with help from actress Kate Winslet in Blu-ray home entertainment releases this week.

The Divergent Series: Insurgent (Lionsgate Home Entertainment, rated: PG-13, $35.99) — The young adult dystopian film genre (bet you did not know that even existed) got refueled earlier this year with the second movie tied to Veronica Roth’s mega-popular book series.

It’s arrival on Blu-ray still can’t help a cinematic story mired in bland plot lines and whiny characters, but it does allow viewers to appreciate the enormous amount of money spent on computer-generated effects and practical stunts.

If you are not sure what I mean about bland, just compare the “Divergent” films to any of the “Hunger Games” blockbusters and witness the difference.

Anyway, this near 2-hour epic picks up right after the first film and finds our nasally “Divergent” heroine Beatrice “Tris” Prior (Shailene Woodley) and her new beau Tobias “Four” Eaton (Theo James) on the run from the Erudite leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet) who is looking to tap into Tris’ powers and open up a mysterious box left by the elders.

The digital transfer along with a Dolby Atmos sound mix will impress during the action scenes not limited to an assault by Dauntless soldiers on the Candor building and the entire post-apocalyptic city of Chicago crumbling under the dreamscape might of Tris.

Better yet, for the teenage film students in the family enamored with the effort, Lionsgate offers an impressive supply of extras to further delve into the movie-making process of the “Divergent” series.

First, producers Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher lumber labor through an optional commentary track with too many silent gaps. They anecdotally discuss the production, the differences from the books, the cast camaraderie on the set and Kate Winslet’s modesty. She was especially worried about her trailer size (she insisted on having the same size as the other principles). I could have really used a director commentary here.

Next, “Insurgent Unlocked” offers a documentary that plays concurrently with the film through a picture-in-picture presentation.

The actual movie gets placed in the lower right or left while the screen is filled with interviews from a large supply of cast members and production staff as well as storyboards, special-effects break downs, city flyovers (before and after the CGI was applied), a breakdown of factions on maps and script notes.

That means everyone from author Veronica Roth to screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, production designer Alec Hammond, actress Ashley Judd, supervising art director Alan Hook, stunt coordinator Darrin Prescott, fight coordinator Jeremy Marinas and even transportation coordinator Denny Caira delve into the minutiae of bringing a $110 million movie to life.

Suffice to report, it is a complete and highly detailed deconstruction of the movie that will not disappoint.

Finally look for short featurettes as well as five theatrical trailers and animated character portraits to round out the extras.

A Little Chaos (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, rated: R, $26.98) — Actor Alan Rickman again tested his directorial skills with this romantic period drama that found a limited release earlier this year.

Now available to home theaters, this gorgeous-looking movie takes viewers to France in the late 1600s and the court of King Louis XIV (played by Mr. Rickman) as he commands his landscape architect André Le Nôtre (Matthias Schoenaerts) to construct the gardens for the Palace of Versailles.

The landscaper extraordinaire hires the best person for the job, a woman named Sabine De Barra (Kate Winslet) with a tragic past but with an eye for inventive design.

It’s fun to watch the budding romance unfold and Miss De Barra rise in the court amidst the high-definition splendor of the lush locations, costuming and inner settings of the palace.

Equally enjoyable are Mr. Rickman as the king and Stanley Tucci as his brother Philippe I, Duke of Orléans. Both chew up the shrubbery through their portrayal of legendary royalty.

Regrettably, the Blu-ray release offers zero extras, not even a short featurette on the real history and characters behind the story. That relegates the disk to a pure rental at best or rather watching this entertaining movie from one of the many on-demand services.


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