Movie Review: Divergent (2014)

Divergent
Directed by Neil Burger
Written by Evan Daugherty & Vanessa Taylor
Based on the novel by Veronica Roth

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Stories about dystopian societies and the teenagers who inhabit them are all the rage right now. Vampires had their day in the sun, no pun intended, and are long gone from the minds of young adults, the tides have turned and the focus has been put on imagined futuristic societies on the edge of despair. Divergent gives audiences a movie that can be easily compared to The Hunger Games series and features strong willed teenage girls and boys who are trying to find their place in society.

In a post-war Chicago, the society has been divided into five factions based on virtues. The amity are basically the farmers and hippy-like people, candors are based on truth and run the judicial system, the erudite on intelligence and learning, the abnegation are the selfless helpers of the world and the dauntless are the protectors and soldiers. Each one dresses different and is based on specific colors like the erudite wear blue suits and dauntless wear leather jackets and pants.

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Now the teenagers in this society, when they reach a certain age, can decide to stay in the group they were born in or choose a new faction. The catch is that once the choice has been made it cannot be undone and the ties to their previous faction and family must be broken.

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The story is about Beatrice or Tris (Shailene Woodley), a former abnegator, who chooses to leave her faction and go with the dauntless. Her brother (Ansel Englort) chooses to leave as well and goes to erudite. Their parents  Natalie (Ashley Judd) and Peter (Tony Goldwyn) are heartbroken and distraught that both their children left.

Capture

Was their life so boring that they had to leave their faction? Had their parents done something wrong in raising them? These questions are brought up by the erudite leader, Jeanine (Kate Winslet), a cold, heartless woman who does not want anyone to assert any human emotions or will in this society.

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The movie takes us through Tris’ journey through dauntless and her relationship with her mentor Four (Theo James). Through her training she realizes that there is a group of people called divergents who cannot be put into any one category, they carry traits from all factions. These people cannot be controlled and pushed around as they have more control over their free will than others. Tris realizes that she is a divergent and this knowledge makes her even more powerful. She sets out to uncover the truth about why the divergents are being destroyed.

Parts of the movie were entertaining to watch. At the dauntless training camp, Tris learns to fight and throw knives and jump out of trains. I would have liked to have seen more of the other factions and what life is like for them. Also, more background on what happened before Chicago turned into this crazy society.

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Honestly for me, this movie was sub-par at best. I felt that the whole story was a rip off of classic novels; it reminded me of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s 1984. Of course I am not against stories being inspired by classic literature, but I do not like the fact that it seems like the same story, but with a different name. In Brave New World each person is born into a different role in society, they are Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, or Epsilon and some are meant to be leaders and others are worker bees. Does that sound familiar? In 1984, there is an omniscient leader of Big Brother who watches everyone and the Party who controls them, cue Jeanine and her walls that see out into the world.

Woodley is charming as always and is shaping up to be as I have said it before her generation’s Meg Ryan. She is the current reigning queen bee of young adult love stories and her ability to quickly shed a tear and convey emotion was ever present in this film. She carried the film and without her, this film would have been more of a disaster.

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James was uber-sexy, yet very dull as Four. I thought he did an okay job, but I felt that he could have stood out a little more. An actor who surprised me in the film was Jai Courtney who played Eric, the main, devilish Dauntless trainer. He played the character with arrogance and swagger and he brought a little grit to the film that was much needed.

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In the end I just kept wishing Katniss Everdeen would come in and swoop these little dauntless brats up and show them who is boss. To say that I prefer The Hunger Games franchise is a light way of saying hell yes!

If you haven’t seen this, I would say it is worth watching if you have nothing else to watch or you want to keep young teens or kids entertained. I put this movie on for my friend’s 11 year old son and he loved it. Overall, this was an okay movie, nothing to rave about, but entertaining enough to watch.

Here are some silly Divergent pics just for fun! I couldn’t help myself!

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}}Melissa

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9 thoughts on “Movie Review: Divergent (2014)

  1. Great review, Melissa! We feel quite similar about this one although I may have enjoyed it a little bit more. I’ve not read the books so I think that helped. Funny – I’ve just finished reading another YA dystopian book & watched the movie today (The Giver). Divergent is SO similar to it! Wonder what you’d make of it… Have you read the book? I’ve just reviewed it. 🙂

    • Thanks T9M! Maybe I am just cynical I hate how stories just get rehashed. So annoying! Hollywood finds one thing they like and they run it to the ground. No I haven’t read that one! Ok I need to get caught up on your blog, will do that right now. 🙂

  2. Lol!! The pic queen strikes again!! Love it. Good review, Melissa! What I have heard of this sounds thoroughly meh. I might give it a go one day just because, but I’m in no rush.

    P.S. This is too funny–I started writing up a review for The Maze Runner, and my opening is a lot like yours here! Dystopians are indeed all the rage, eh?

  3. “Vampires had their day in the sun” – Goodness knows that was a bad time for everyone involved!

    Did you read the books lady?

    I must say I intensely disliked the movie. The books were alright, as in they were as good and as bad as The Hunger Games, both had pros and cons going for them (for me). For instance, a huge negative of the Hunger Games books for me IS Katniss Everdeen. I wanna strangle that dizzy and whiney bitch every time I see she is going to come up again. Urgh. Tris was just fine and then had herself some seriously Katnissy moments. One thing the Divergent trilogy had going for it that I really liked was NO LOVE TRIANGLE.

    Oh well, I really hoped for more from this flick, maybe something more in the lines of The Hungers Games, I was highly disappointed. And I was a pretty big defender of this film before it came.

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