Divergent: A Movie Review

Note: I’ll try to keep this as spoiler free as possible, but read with caution regardless. 

So guess who got tickets to the advanced screening of Divergent? This girl!

Before I go on, I should confess that I have never read the book by Veronica Roth …I know, I know…Oh, the horror! But I was actually kind of happy I didn’t read the book, because my movie buddy, who had read the book, said it was very true to the novel so she wasn’t surprised by the way things turned out in the film.

DIVERGENT is a thrilling action-adventure film set in a world where people are divided into distinct factions based on human virtues. Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) is warned she is Divergent and will never fit into any one group. When she discovers a conspiracy by a faction leader (Kate Winslet) to destroy all Divergents, Tris must learn to trust in the mysterious Four (Theo James) and together they must find out what makes being Divergent so dangerous before it’s too late.

As for me, I thought the film was okay. It was entertaining, which is always must for me. (If I get bored by a film, I might not be dramatic enough to walk out, but I will complain after the fact until my family can’t take it anymore and decides to lock me out of the house in retaliation…something that happens far to often.)

The film makers did a decent job of setting up the dystopian world in the city of Chicago, which consists mostly of partially destroyed buildings in the background. The city is also divided into factions by the government: Erudites, Abnegation, Amity, Candors, and Dauntless. (For anyone, who has read the novel, this might sound familiar.)  The different aspects of the world were well-explained in the film, and I wasn’t scrambling too much to fill in any gaps. However, I did find that the lines between some of the factions seemed a little blurred. For instance, the Abnegation and the Amity groups seem to be very similar in function. But, of course, the heroine Tris turns out to be divergent, which basically means she was “born to be undefinable” – which is basically the overall message of the film.

This leads into my next issue: the Choosing Ceremony. I never quite understood why it was such a big deal. Tris basically gets to choose the faction she wants to be a part of (Dauntless, in this case), so I really didn’t get why the parents and government made such a big deal of the ceremony. (My movie buddy later told me the reason was better explained in the book than the film, and while I can blame part of my confusion on lack of better attention, I am fortunately not solely at fault.)

However, the films’ leads, Woodley and James, had great chemistry – especially in the EPIC lip-lock, which is admittedly my favourite part of the film. Woodley was also in almost every scene of the film and did her best to portray a teenager turned rebellion leader. I also though that James did a decent job at acting the part of the mysterious Dauntless, Four.

That said, the rest of the cast including Kate Winslet and Maggie Q were sadly underused – surprising considering the potential star-quality of some of the actors cast in Divergent. (That, and I found Winslet’s American accent a bit distracting – this was really the one time they should have stuck with a British villain.)

But the slow start to the story soon gave way to fast-paced action, with a lot of fast moving trains! And since action films are my favourite kinds of films, I wasn’t complaining much at this point. Along with the action in the latter half of the film, the next best thing about Divergent was that there seems to be no love triangle in sight, and the story really plays up the chemistry between the main leads rather than focusing on unnecessary drama.

Yet, overall, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the film. It had some good points and some bad ones, but it didn’t bore me to tears – of course, it didn’t inspire me to write a sonnet either. So as things stand, I’d say Divergent was an average film. It didn’t entirely stand alone and, despite what I thought earlier, it might have been a good idea to read the book before going in. For the mathematically inclined, I’d give the film a passing score of 2 out of 4 stars.

Rika Ashton

(aka, The Film Reviewer)

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