Admittedly, I had no desire to see Divergent. I am not a fan of teen worldwide bestsellers turned motion picture event of the year types of films anymore. That part of me died when I saw Twilight: New Moon. However, I was excited to see the Hunger Games, and generally that movie was very pleasing…not quite what I imagined but not bad either. Unlike The Hunger Games, I have never read any of the Divergent series. I only know what I have read in book reviews and film hype for this series, and ultimately the film delivered. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed the film.
Divergent takes place in a dystopian future where one city is broken up into multiple factions: Abnegation, designed for the selfless; Amity for the peaceful; Candor for the honest; Dauntless for the brave, and Erudite for the Intelligent; each doing something to contribute to the population as a whole. Now, I use city above, because I am not sure if anything outside the city of Chicago where this film takes place even exists. I am hoping this is explored in the later films in this series. At a young age, children of this society need to take a test determining what faction they should join. Ultimately, it is their choice; the test is there to help guide them only. This is where we meet Beatrice played wonderfully by Shailene Woodley, who was amazing in The Spectacular Now (2013). She brings a nice mix of vulnerability and strength to this part, as Beatrice or Tris as she likes to be called is Abnegation by birth but longs to be part of the cool kids, the Dauntless. After taking her test, we find out that she is what society calls a divergent, meaning she fits no specific faction. She fits multiple factions, and in this world that is a very bad thing. This is where the movie starts to take off; Tris, deciding she is Dauntless in her heart, starts on the adventure of a lifetime, leaving behind everything she knows as she basically goes to military boot camp. The Dauntless faction contains all the protectors of the city. So, they are basically the warriors and fighters of a mostly peaceful city. Outside the walls of the city, though, there are evils not explained, only mentioned. I assume they are saving that for later as well.
During her time in training we are introduced to her brooding yet deep thinking drill instructor, Four, played by Theo James and her sidekicks Christina, Peter, and Will, played by Zoe Kravitz (X-Men First Class), Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now), and Ben Lloyd-Hughes, respectively. They all serve as nothing more than filler to the larger plot involving the smarty pants Erudite’s wanting to take over the leadership of the city from the Abnegation faction. This includes eradicating all divergent’s from the city due to their immunity to the mind controlling agents that they have developed.
This movie starts to stand out as we see Tris moving through training and slowly understanding what it means to be a divergent. I had the same questions Tris had at the beginning of the film when she was secretly told she was a divergent by a tester named Tori, played by Maggie Q (Mission Impossible), so to see her get those questions answered throughout the film helped me to understand this world we were both trapped in. That is the really bright spot of this film, as many famous books that get the film treatment can move quickly through the setup, because they know that most people have read the books.
As with all tween movies we get not only up and coming stars but also high powered stars of yesteryear, and this film is no different. We see Kate Winslet (Titanic) playing the leader of the Erudites, as well as Ashley Judd (Kiss The Girls), and Tony Goldwin (The Last Samurai) playing the leaders of the Abnegation faction who also happen to be Tris’s parents. We also get a nice little subplot involving Four and his dad Marcus, played by Ray Stevenson (Thor). I truly hope to see more of that in the future films.
The film’s final act is the only area of the film that I thought was slow. It takes nothing away from the film, as I know there are probably two to three more of these films coming out. I assume this film is merely setting up the world so we can see all the craziness in the next few films. Hopefully this movie does not jump the zombie like the Twilight series did. If all of them are as good as this one, count me in for seeing them.
For those who did not get the “jump the shark” reference, just Google it…
Rating 3 out of 5