"Muppets Most Wanted" (PG) *** (out of four)
"Muppets Most Wanted" opens up with the musical number "We're Doing a Sequel," which basically says, "Look, we know sequels rarely top originals, and you might not like this as much as the first film, but you're going to have a good time anyway" – and they're right.
Despite falling short of expectations, "Muppets Most Wanted" is still a joyous caper movie that's much different in tone to the coming-of-age story of "The Muppets" from 2011. Ricky Gervais is hilarious as jewel thief who pretends to manage the Muppets on a tour of Europe, while Ty Burrell and Tina Fey fit the bill in the other main human roles as an Interpol inspector and Russian gulag warden, respectively. Look for a smattering of other big star cameos to complement this fine continuance of the Muppets' movie franchise.
"Divergent" (PG-13)*** (out of four)
If Summit Entertainment is hoping to continue its winning streak created with its "Twilight" and "Hunger Games" franchises, the studio's latest offering, "Divergent," is off to an impressive start. Like "The Hunger Games," "Divergent" (the first film adaptation in a trilogy of books) centers on a young heroine who stands apart from society and threatens the existence of the establishment.
"Divergent" is set in the future Chicago, where the city's residents are divided into five factions based on different virtues. At age 16, new selectees are given aptitude tests to determine which faction they belong to, and on rare occasion, those who don't fit into any category are labeled a "Divergent." The dilemma for Tris (Shailene Woodley) is, if she divulges she's a divergent, her life could quickly come to an end. While a bit too long, the film version of Veronica Roth's first novel is carefully plotted out and effectively builds intensity as it draws near its cliffhanger ending.
See a video of my reviews of "Muppets Most Wanted" and "Divergent" on KARE 11.