Divergent Movie Review
The movie version of the popular novel is here for fans and newbies alike. Is “Divergent” worth a trip to the Cineplex? Kidzworld reviews the sci-fi actioner.
By: Lynn Barker
In a future, post-war society whose members are divided into “factions” named for different human virtues, 16-year-old Beatrice Prior has to choose the group she’ll be in for the rest of her life. What if she feels she fits into more than one? Decisions, decisions. Where is the Harry Potter sorting hat when you need it?
Time to Choose
Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) tells us that, in her post-war society, she is part of the Abnegation Faction (known for selflessness). We see that when the young, tough and agile members of the Dauntless (fearless) Faction hit town, Beatrice envies them. Soon she will have to choose her forever faction from those selected for her in a test. Her parents (played by Ashley Judd and Tony Goldwyn) of course want her to choose Abnegation.
When Beatrice is tested to see which factions she is fit for, the results are inconclusive. She could fit into all and thus is called Divergent… which is really bad and must be kept secret. This society doesn’t like people who don’t fit into neat pockets. They’re dangerous. Tris picks her fave faction Dauntless, resulting in her never being allowed to see her parents again.
Leap of Faith
Even though some Dauntless members tease Tris (the new name she’s given herself) calling her a “stiff” because of her former faction’s calm, selfless attitude, she shows courage by being the first trainee to literally take a leap of faith off a building into an unseen net far below. During training, Tris meets Erudite Faction leader Jeannine (Titanic’s Kate Winslet) who sees her potential and reminds her that she has to stand on her own and remember “Faction before blood”. Tris has an enemy in fellow trainee Peter (Miles Teller) and lead trainer Eric (Jai Courtney) but it is hot trainer Four (Theo James) who catches her eye… and vice versa.
Climbing up the Ladder
After enduring frightening, psychological “fear” tests, winning a fun and dangerous capture-the-flag wargame in the ruins of the city and many knock-downs and betrayals by new “friends”, Tris finally completes her training and is initiated into Dauntless but Four, who is also secretly Divergent, notices that Tris must be as well. Tris’s mom sneaks into the area to warn Tris that, if she is Divergent, her life is in danger. Tris finds that her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) has chosen the Erudite Faction and will be no help to her. Four reveals his Divergent status to Tris and they share a kiss. They learn that Erudite is up to something; using drugs to make Dauntless members their unknowing army in overthrowing the Abnegation Faction now running the government.
Four and Tris discover that, as Divergents, they are immune to the drug turning their friends into a mindless army. They go along hoping to save Tris’s family and stop Jeannine and her “smart” gang from taking over. Will the Erudite Faction succeed in killing their enemies? Will anyone in Tris’s family be spared? Will Four be turned against Tris? Who will survive?
Your enjoyment of Divergent as a film might likely depend on whether you read and are a fan of the novel. Although tightening of the story was required, the movie does follow the book quite closely. If you aren’t already a book fan, the story might feel unfinished or all the training sequences might seem too long, repetitive and almost mechanical.
The exaggerated way Dauntless members run, jump and act like it’s Spring Break on speed everywhere they go reads as colorful and interesting in the book but kind of comes off as silly on film. Sure, keep true to the book with the jumping on and off trains thing but, as filmed, Dauntless members look like hyped-up show offs without any “off” switch.
The “look” of the movie is great, however, with cool special effects that suck you into the action. The capture-the-flag wargame in the city and especially the zipline ride at the end is done really effectively. You’ll feel a bit like you are taking that crazy slide into the unknown yourself.
As Tris and Four, Shailene Woodley and Theo James make convincing individual characters and a believable couple, especially under the tense, pressured circumstances of the story. Kate Winslet as the “baddie” is also convincing as she portrays Erudite leader Jeannine best described as cold, blonde ambition in a power suit. Whereas the characters of Christina (Zoë Kravitz), Peter, Al, Will and Eric, seem more fleshed out and very real in the book, they aren’t really developed enough in the film for us to care much about them.
Final word? For fans of the novel, we would go four stars. For newbies just looking for an entertaining sci fi action flick with a love story, Divergent might fall a bit short. Overall, we go three stars.
Divergent Movie Review:
Divergent is in theaters now!
Divergent Final Trailer