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Divergent Review

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Tris (Woodley) and her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort; Carrie) are two of many youngsters who have reached the stage of adolescence where they must make their first big decision. We are in Chicago, after an apocalypse, where society has disbanded into five separate factions and they must make a choice; live in the faction of their parents or take a different path through life.

Before deciding, each candidate receives an aptitude test to show them which faction they are best suited for. Unfortunately for Tris, she is a mixture of all five groups; a divergent. Divergents are considered dangerous as they have the ability to think outside the box, and as such could potentially bring down society; as such Tris can’t let anyone know that she is not like them or she could be in grave danger.

Main cast

Shailene Woodley (The Secret Life of the American Teenager (TV); The Descendants; The Spectacular Now)

Theo James (The Inbetweeners Movie; Underworld: Awakening)

Kate Winslet (Titanic; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; Sense and Sensibility)

Jai Courtney (A Good Day to Die Hard; Jack Reacher; I, Frankenstein)

Directed by Neil Burger (Limitless; The Lucky Ones; The Illusionist)

Written by Evan Dougherty (Snow White and the Huntsman) and Vanessa Taylor (Hope Springs)

Based on the novel “Divergent” by Veronica Roth

Have you ever heard a film “bigged up” so much that you just have to see it? Yeah? This was it, I love The Hunger Games as I’m sure you’ll know, and when I heard this was a more adult version of it, it instantly piqued my curiosity. What we actually got was a kids film, that made The Hunger Games seem like Battle Royale. I will admit to not being interested in reading novels, but I can only assume that Veronica Roth in the midst of reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins got side-tracked by the H.G. Wells tale The Time Machine, and somehow came up with this trite nonsense.

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Morlocks. Did they inspire Veronica Roth?

The saving point for this film is the on-screen partnership of Theo James and Shailene Woodley who surrounded by some cringe-worthy performances from people like Miles Teller (21 & Over) and Maggie Q (Nikita (TV)); the latter playing her minor role as though she is trying to help Neo within The Matrix.

People who have read the book will tell you about “the rape scene”. This is a film for young teenagers (rated 12A in the United Kingdom), so naturally it doesn’t happen, or even come close to happening. Perhaps the film could have done being aimed at an older audience, and been more violent with undertones like this throughout? That might have helped you to feel remotely sympathetic towards the bland characters. It certainly would have helped with the boredom factor! I was sat next to a couple of young girls who clearly were about GCSE age, and they even seemed less than enthused with the action on-screen, deciding that their mobile phones were more interesting at various stages.

I genuinely feel that there could be something that could have made the film work, and that was to allow the more senior actors a chance to carry the cast. The two most interesting characters could have been the leaders of the Erudite [intelligent] and Abegnation [selfless] factions: played by Kate Winslet and Ray Stevenson (Thor), but they weren’t given anywhere near enough screen time to allow the political background to the faction system to come to the fore. I have to assume that this will happen in the next film, in a rather pointless trilogy, but I sure as Hell won’t consider watching a second one! Bear in mind that I sat through all nine Hellraiser films, and all five Twilight ones, so I have a pretty strong tolerance for bad and unnecessary sequels!

Another disappointing aspect of this film was how little they took advantage of the wonderful layout of Chicago. It’s one of the nicest metropolises in the world, and gets vastly underused albeit the scene during the capture the flag challenge where we see the iconic Ferris wheel on Navy Pier lying derelict does make for a really great image.

TVFR Rating: 5/10

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I have to disagree, as a fan of the book (currently underway with my second read through), this film was surprisingly good. Certainly not great, but good nonetheless. Definitely better than the nonsense that was City of Bones. There’s a lot more intensity to the book, and more detail, but it was a close enough translation. No Harry Potter, but one of the better book to film adaptations I’ve seen.

    I realize you think the movie should’ve been carried by the older cast members, but that wouldn’t make sense for the movie, given that the book is all about Tris and her plights through initiation in the Dauntless compound, and hiding that she is Divergent.

    Also, as someone currently reading the book for a second time, I can tell you that there is no rape scene in the book. Honestly, there’s less than what the film shows in the book. And, taking away what the movies are like, Divergent has only a couple common threads with The Hunger Games – the dystopian setting, the fact that Tris and Katniss are strong, female characters, and that the competition during initiation in the dauntless compound minutely resembles competing in the hunger games.

  2. Oh, and Tris is actually only a combination of three of the five groups: Dauntless, Abnegation, and Erudite.

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