Friday, March 21, 2014

Divergent (2014): Review

Tonight I went and saw one of the first showings of the new teen book to movie adaptation Divergent.  I would have gone and seen the earlier show tonight but I couldn't because I was working, but after I got done I was able to get my sister to come and see it with me and I am happy to say that it was better then I thought it would be.  Going in I was trying not to get my hopes up too much, because for some of these types of movies although the movie itself is entertaining, the whole experience just inst able to deliver.
Divergent (2014) is the movie adaptation of the 2011 Veronica Roth movie of the same name.  It is the first movie in a trilogy of three and the second and third movies are already scheduled for release in the upcoming years.  The story itself is complicated and has a lot of pieces that fit together to create the whole.  Overall the movie did a good job but I think that the book had so many things that were important it was harder to whittle it down to the movie and the movie is quite long coming in at just under two and a half hours. Divergent is set in a future Chicago where the world that has been destroyed by war and the remaining people have divided themselves into five groups in order to keep order within their society.  Every year the sixteen years old take an aptitude test to see where they naturally fall into the system, it is then up to them to choose which faction they will choose to be a part of and who;s ruling characteristic they will dedicate their life too (it doesn't have to be the faction their aptitude is for).  The five factions are Abnegation (selfless), Erudite (intelligent), Dauntless (brave), Amity (peaceful), and Candor (honest). Although there are five factions in this world, Divergent focuses on three Abnegation, Erudite, and Dauntless.  
Divergent follows Tris (Beatrice), played by Shailene Woodly, a girl raised in Abnegation who has never felt like she was naturally selfless and had always been drawn to the Dauntless.  When she takes her aptitude test which is administered by Dauntless Tori, played by Maggie Q, is found to be Divergent.  Divergent means that she does not fit into just one characteristic and is the type of person who is dangerous to this system that requires people be categorized into one thing.  She is told that if the leaders find out she is Divergent she will be killed.  She chooses to change her faction and joins Dauntless where she meets Four, played by Theo James and finds out that it is not so easy to blend in and belong to the brave faction then she thought.  As she struggles to make the cut through Dauntless initiation she finds herself attracted to Four, hiding her true self from everyone, and drawn into the struggle for power of leadership between the factions.
Other important characters are Jeanine, played by Kate Winselet, who is the leader of Erudite and is seeking out the Divergent; Tris's mother Natalie, played by Ashley Judd; Tris's brother Caleb, played by Andel Elgort, who chooses the Erudite faction; a leader of Dauntless Eric, played by Jai Courtney; Christina, played by Zoe Kravitz, a Dauntless transfer from Candor who becomes friends with Tris; and Peter, played by Miles Teller, a Dauntless transfer who is at odds with Tris.  There are many other characters who are pieces in the overall puzzle of the story and pull the parts of the story together but these were the main ones in my opinion.
I really did enjoy this movie and I think that it helped that I had read the books and I new the importance of the things put in and who all the characters were, that being said, I then also became disappointed in how the movie spoon fed the audience information about the animosity coming from Erudite and how they ampted up, in a way that took away from the actual book story this conflict.  In the book you follow Tris through her struggles and discovery of things not necessarily being what they seem but in the movie it puts it out there and even makes it obvious to others involved.  The good thing about this breaking down of the story and letting the audience know what is happening, is that it helps to have all the background information for the story According to my sister who has not read the book the overall movie made scene but to me it seemed like she asked more clarifying questions then normal for her attending a movie where I have read the book and she hasn't. I would have liked if they stuck a bit closer to the book at the end conflict as I think the dramatic level could have still been high, it will be interesting to see how they string this chance into the other movies.

Like I said, I really enjoyed this movie and felt like it was entertaining and kept my interest. It does some of the things that I don't like in movies with lot of close up shots and action sequences.  I just wanted the camera to pan out and let me see what was happening, hold the wider shots for just a little bit longer, or let me see more then just a close up on the faces of the actors. I am starting to just except that movie do this but it still bugs me.

I really liked the overall cast of this movie and thought that they worked together.  Theo James was great as Four and he fit the bill of the hunky, mysterious guy that you cant help but be attracted and drawn to but you know probably is going to bring some danger with him.  With increasing his age and having an actor play him who is older helped me with really going with how good looking he is 'cos he looks quite fine in many of these scenes.  The supporting cast was good and worked well off each other.  Shailene Woodl as Tris was fine but for some reason I struggle with seeing her meld into the character and feel that another actress could have done the same or better then her in this movie, she just didn't seem up to the task of playing the internal struggle of Tris and the warring parts of herself.
Divergent has all of the things needed to have a great teen lit book movie adaptation. There is internal snuggle, drama, conflict, attraction, danger, etc.  I recommend seeing this movie for sure for anyone who likes these book adaptions, and it is a movie that although the original target audience of the book are teenagers translates well into a movie for a wider demographic.  

My Rating: 3

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