Movie Review: Divergent

I suppose this will be as much a book review as it is a movie review. I went with a group of friends and saw Divergent yesterday morning. The Pg-13 film was 139 minutes long. I will start my review by saying it was over in the blink of an eye and left me wanting so much more.divergent

Prior to the release, critics blasted the film. It received an average 3.5 out of a possible 10 Stars on I.M.D.B. This made me apprehensive. Critics also kept comparing Veronica Roth and her novels to Suzanne Collins and The Hunger Games. Scathing reviews said that Divergent was nowhere near as equally riveting as The Hunger Games.

The stories are nothing alike. The only similarities I saw come from a strong female teen lead character. Is Katniss  anything like  Beatrice (Tris)? I suppose, but she is also completely different; motivated by a unique set of circumstances. No. I change my mind. Other than both being female, and teens, and the main characters of their own trilogies  — there are no other similarities. (Do not get me wrong. I enjoyed The Hunger Game books, and so far, the movies. I am just missing the point as to why the two sets of books/movies are being compared. There isn’t one. And they shouldn’t be).

Personally, if you have not read the book Divergent and see the movie, I suspect the movie will be complicated. Not un-followable, just complicated. The plot is not simplistic despite being geared toward teens. I do know several people who have since seen the movie without having read the book and enjoyed the film just the same. Anyway . . .

Set in a futuristic Chicago, a community is enclosed behind an electrified fence. The community is split into 5 Factions to keep things running smoothly. The intelligent faction is known as the Erudite; the honest, Candor. The peaceful people are known as Amity, and the brave, Dauntless. The selfless faction, the one Beatrice belongs to, is Abnegation. One is born and raised in the faction of their parents. On your sixteenth birthday, teens undergo a test to see which faction they actual belong in. Regardless, a person can pick to be in any of the other four factions, or stay in the faction they were raised in.

When a teen chooses to leave the faction they were raised in, it is upsetting. They must say goodbye to their family. There is a good chance they will never see them again. And if you fail in your knew chosen faction, you can not return home. You become what is actually the 6th faction. The Factionless — those who don’t belong to any faction, and live like the homeless, scavenging for food, and clothing, and shelter. . .

Beatrice’s test results are inconclusive. They do not point to any one faction. Instead, they point to them all. She is what the government calls, Divergent. This is dangerous. Divergent do not think like anyone else, and therefore are a threat. The Government wants ALL Divergent dead! Forced to keep the test results a secret, Beatrice must pick where she feels she best belongs.

Abnegation has always been in charge of the local government because they are selfless and can therefore be trusted with politics. Beatrice discovers a plot by the Amity to overthrow the Abnegation. Chemical injections given to Dauntless will leave their minds susceptible to suggestion, making them dangerous and unstoppable –since the Dauntless train to be warriors, the police of the nation, the protectors of all.

The movie is constantly compelling. The time flies. Beatrice (Tris) is played by Shailene Woodley. Never heard of her before. She nailed the role of Tris. (She reminded me of a young Tatum O’Neal. The way she talked. Something about her eyes, too. (The Fault in Our Stars will be released later this year, starring Woodley, as well). With forthcoming releases of Insurgent and Allegiant, she will surely be a star to watch.

Theo James portrays Four. He also someone I have never heard of prior. At first, he was not what I pictured when reading the novel. Seemed a little too old. However, as the movie progressed, I think I saw what casting directors picked up on during auditions. He was Four. No way around it.

While directed by Neil Burger, written by Evan Daugherty and Vanessa Taylor, Roth did not give up her creative input. She also helped write, and co-produce the film. Good for her. Although some story elements from the novel are missing, overall the movie stayed mostly true and on point.

Compelling and action-packed, great acting, and some intense scenes (yeah, I jumped once or twice), I found Divergent so entertaining. I cannot wait for the next in this bound to be popular trilogy.

Phillip Tomasso
Author of The Vaccination Trilogy

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