Divergent Movie Review
DIVERGENT is the latest young adult novel to get the big screen treatment. After the triumphant success of THE HUNGER GAMES and the surprise following of TWILIGHT, everyone is throwing their futuristic sci-fi hat into the fight to the death ring. While I can’t comment on the book, author Veronica Roth has taken elements that audiences are familiar with and created a thoughtful, entertaining story that translates to thrilling movie magic with leaping solidary colors.
Divided into five factions of life, the future of society has a very structured way of living. Before entering adulthood, people are to take a type of personality/attribute test that will help guide them in the career path they should take. However, as I said before, there are only five choices and it ultimately is up to each individual on what they decide to choose. Imagine a much more detailed and life altering consequence of the “sorting hat” scene from HARRY POTTER.
The five factions are as follows: Abnegation meant for the selfless, Amity meant for the peaceful, Candor meant for the honest, Dauntless meant for the brave, and Erudite meant for the intelligent. Most people follow in the foot steps of the their parents but every year there are plenty of transits as well. Our heroine, Beatrice (Shailene Woodley), has been raised as an Abnegation but when she takes her test an odd placement is her result. Beatrice fits more than one category, which is defined as a Divergent. Divergents are feared as they don’t conform into society’s neat little box. Beatrice must keep her secret hidden and follow her heart.
I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when entering my screening, but to my surprise, I was grinning from ear to ear with excited anticipation of what this new world was going to bring. Of course, the complexity is rather simple being meant more for the teenage audience. But the themes are beautifully set as they are easy for anyone to follow yet relatable within every person’s own psyche. It’s about growing up, sticking up for the little guy and fighting for what is right. The symbolic and literal leap of Beatrice’s first act of freedom might be overt but it’s also completely effective, taking the audience on the unique yet identifiably energized journey.
Director Neil Burger (LIMITLESS, THE ILLUSIONIST) does a fine job keeping the focus on the action and our lead character. Anchored by the extremely talented Shailene Woodley (THE DESCENDANTS), the casting is also solid introducing a plethora of young actors including, Theo James, Zoe Kravitz, and Miles Teller (Woodley’s costar in last year’s delightful THE SPECTACULAR NOW). Never utilized to their full potential, the adult cast is full of more recognizable names like Ashley Judd, Tony Goldwyn, Ray Stevenson, Mekhi Phifer, and Oscar winner Kate Winslet. Hopefully, the story matures in the sequels along with character development of the supporting cast.
DIVERGENT runs a little long in the tooth, squeezing in a bit too much in the third act and almost losing its way. But despite the extensive runtime, the film is quickly paced, keeping the fascinating narrative moving through the action. Sometimes the cheesy teenage love story and frustrating character choices mixed with a few oddly placed pop songs pulls the viewer out of the enthralling storyline. These detractors are very minimal and can easily be overlooked as DIVERGENT has a captivating premise while being a breezy good time at the theater.