Divergent – Review
In a world divided by factions based on virtues, Tris learns she's Divergent and won't fit in. When she discovers a plot to destroy Divergents, Tris and the mysterious Four must find out what makes Divergents dangerous before it's too late.
Divergent is a film adaptation of the novel, written by Veronica Roth, that takes place in dystopian Chicago. The society that resides there is split into five groups or “factions”, each representing different virtues: Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, Erudite. On a certain day each year, all youth that are 16 years old take test that determined which faction is the best fit. In the end, no matter what the result, one is free to choose whatever faction they wish to. However, if that faction is different from the one they were raised in, they must leave their families and everything else behind and fully commit to their new role in society. Tris is one of these 16 year olds to be divided. On testing day she shows equal aptitude for three separate factions, making her “Divergent”. Confused, Tris is told to keep her results a secret and ends up choosing the Dauntless faction. As Tris deals with the grueling challenges of becoming Dauntless, she discovers that being divergent entails much more than she ever imagined.
The cinematography and editing I thought was also very well done. I really liked the costume and set designs for this movie, and how well they reflected the factions. From the clothing to their homes, it was all very well thought out on how such a civilization would actually love. However, with a taxing two hour and twenty minute run time, Divergent is a complete clunker. The real grit of the story doesn’t begin until well over an hour in and it isn’t until the last thirty minutes that some kind of resolve needs to happen. Since I haven’t read the book, I’m not sure if it is Roth’s lack of imagination or the screenwriters Evan Daugherty and Vanessa Taylor’s failure to bring the book to life, but Divergent is absolutely devoid of any kind of world building to make this film stand out besides its loony way of assigning factions to its citizens. They even use the Chicago’s L transit system to ride into Hogwarts, I mean Dauntless. Strangely, there seems to be no adults anywhere unless they play a small role in the plot, and yet there are so many kids running around. The bulk of the movie is focused on these kids and their plight to fit into Dauntless. Tris and Four’s parents become a convoluted piece of the puzzle near the final act, adding little relevance, clarity, emotional depth, or importance. Janine, an Erudite and President Snow rip-off, is one of the few adults we get to know and acts as the main antagonist, posing as a faceless, unmotivated, and irrational villain.
This underwhelming storytelling is thankfully carried by a more fascinating and delicious vision. Neil Burger creates it into larger-than-life, and they are much entertaining than what the script tries to deliver. Everything just moves briskly and makes sure that it doesn’t miss a satisfying thrill. The coolest scenes are proof that these filmmakers have big ambition to the project and yet the narrative fails to justify it. The cast has also done well. Shailene Woodley and Theo James are competent enough as the heroes, and Kate Winslet somewhat elevated her villainous character. Divergent could be like one of those vapid YA’s such as Beautiful Creatures, Mortal Instruments, or whatever. Except this one is probably the best among since it has a craft that at least made it watchable. But then the meat is not well defined.
We care, we fear, we admire their prowess and resourcefulness. Here I was hoping a nuclear bomb would come down and put all the factions out of their misery. In fact, a sixth faction was evolving throughout the film: the bored ones, those of in the audience who were looking for entertainment and still had hope we could rely on future installments of a “new” trilogy. A few years ago, a much better series with Kidman and Daniel Craig was not given a chance, though it had a very interesting premise. Wait! Did they pay tribute to that one, too? I wouldn’t be surprised. But, perhaps my biggest issue is that it Divergent follows a lot of the usual standards for Young Adult adaptation to screen. And I won’t spoil too much of it, but as you watch nothing really does feel like you can’t guess the next move. To me, this is better than The Hunger Games and so much easier to get into. So, at least I concluded this review on a positive note.
Maggie Q's character keeps this movie from being downright horrible, instead bringing it up into the low end of mediocrity.
This may give immature readers/watchers the wrong ideas about courage.