Divergent Blu-ray Review
In a galaxy located in the not too far away future (to be specific, Chicago) the human race will comprise of five factions. The factions are Dauntless (for the brave), Amity (the peaceful ones – lots of farmers here), Erudite (the ones with the brains), Abnegation (the selfless ones), and Candor (not afraid to tell the truth). Though I think I’d make a terrible farmer (I don’t like those hours) as a JAWS fan I’d have to take Amity. Like THE HUNGER GAMES or LOGAN’S RUN, once a year, people of a certain age (here it’s 16) assemble for a life-altering event. But it’s not The Reaping or Carousel they’re lining up for. It’s the opportunity to decide what direction your life will take. After a session of testing, each young adult gets to choose if they wish to remain in the faction they’re in, or give something else a try. The only drawback: if you leave your faction for another, and fail, there’s no going back home. “Faction before blood,” is the motto of the day.
When we meet 16 year old Beatrice (Woodley), she and her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort), both members of the Abnegation faction, are getting ready for the testing. Caleb gets his results, no problem. But when Beatrice is tested, the proctor is puzzled. According to the results, she is not predetermined for ANY of the factions. She is what they call “Divergent,” which means she’s a free thinker. And dangerous. Told to keep the results to herself, and say the results were inconclusive if asked, Beatrice heads off to a new life…one that will almost kill her.
I’ve really admired Shailene Woodley since I first saw her opposite George Clooney in THE DESCENDANTS. She was on my short list for an Oscar nomination that year and has proven her talents with such recent films as THE SPECTACULAR NOW and the current THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. Here she is really the one character in the film that you really care about. After choosing to join the Dauntless faction, and shortening her name to Tris, she begins an uphill battle to remain in the top two thirds of the class or risk expulsion to the outside world where the non-factioned are looked down upon by everyone. She must learn how to fight and quickly. She and her fellow initiates are tutored by several long serving members of the faction, among them the numerically named Four (James). He takes an interest in Tris due to her dedication but soon you can see the quiet sparks begin to fly. As Tris moves up the rankings, the training gets harder. Yet, Tris begins to breeze through the various mental exercises and Four begins to suspect the truth. Will Four agree with the motto “Faction before love?”
The rest of the cast, including Miles Teller, Zoe Kravitz and Ashley Judd, do a credible job but are never given enough to take them above anything but one dimensional characters. When Kate Winslet shows up you might as well have had a title appear on screen with an arrow pointed at her reading “Bad Guy!” This fact, coupled with an almost 2 hour 30 minute running time, make the film drag. It also doesn’t help that the film has several different endings, ala the last LORD OF THE RINGS film. Just when you think it’s over…surprise! If you’re a Woodley fan, give it a peek. If not, I’d suggest joining the anti-DIVERGENT faction.
DIVERGENT BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: Presented in a 2:40.1 aspect ratio, the transfer is surprisingly dark. Not sure if that’s because the future is supposed to be bleak or nobody paid attention in the lab.
Audio: Features English presentations in both in DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 and Dolby 2.1. The sound is clear and even. The sound effects, especially special dart guns that simulate the pain of a real gunshot, are clean and loud.
Audio Commentary with Director Neil Burger: Not a bad commentary, but not as informative on the ins and outs of making the film. Sometimes it’s like sitting in a theatre next to someone whose already seen the film – “here’s where the shark jumps out.”
Audio Commentary with Producers Lucy Fisher and Douglas Wick: Much better. More behind the scenes stories and tales of casting and filming. Plus a few jokes at the expense of co-stars Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, who play siblings here but portray lovers in “The Fault in Our Stars.”
Bringing Divergent to Life (47:17): A series of four featurettes that give a very good look at the creation of the film, from beginning to end.
Faction Before Blood (14:51): Everything you’d want to know about the Faction system…and a lot of stuff you don’t.
Deleted Scenes (4:27): Nothing worth seeing…I could think of another 30 minutes worth.
“Beating Heart” Music Video (3:48): Featuring Ellie Goulding.
Marketing Gallery: Includes (2) different trailers and a poster gallery.
The disc also comes with two additional trailers for THE SPECTACULAR NOW (with Woodley and Miles Teller) and THE FAULT IN OUR STARS (with Woodley and Ansel Elgort). I see a pattern here!
There are also some temporary tattoos included with the Blu-ray