Sunday, April 6, 2014

What's Playing: Divergent Text Review

In a world where adaptation over original storytelling is the general norm, Hollywood has done its job to make films to capture the attention of the younger generation. It could be traced back with the release of the Twilight films, based on the tween novel series and after the huge financial success of those movies studios wanted to get their hands on other teen series books to find the same outcome. And there have been quite a number of films based on these genres of books; The Hunger Games, Blood and Chocolate, Beautiful Creatures, just to name a few. Now the newest book to be adapted into a film is the 2011 novel Divergent.

Set in a post apocalyptic future after the events of World War Insert Number here, we see that the city of Chicago has survived because of the development of a five faction system. These factions include: Amity, those tasked to farm and harvest; Candor, who are lawgivers and justices of society; Dauntless, who simply are the military force/police; Erudite, who provide of the scientific endeavors; and Abnegation, who provide care for the less fortunate and those who have no faction. They also are the governing class over all the other factions, despite the fact the movie mentions that EACH faction has their own leader, so why couldn't they form a five member council and vote on decisions is beyond me.

Each year, the youth of this society takes an aptitude test, which includes an observed chemically induced hallucination, to determine where they exactly belong. Usually they just wind up back in their home faction but these kids have the option to later change their minds and pick a whole new faction to be a part of.

Tris Prior our main antagonist, played by Shailene Woodley, a member of Abnegation, sadly suffers from Disney Princess Syndrome, where in that she feels like she doesn't belong to her group and wishes to see more of the world. When it comes to her test, it turns out that her results that she is a Divergent, a rare occurrence in the system that somehow poses a threat to the rest of the factions. Because of their rebellious nature they are immune to forms of manipulation and mind control, and therefore they don't follow the norm of the society. However when a coup is organized by the Erudites led by Jeanie Matthews, play by Kate Winslet, it's up to Tris and others to thwart the plans and rebel against their entire way of life.

Going into this movie I expected a somewhat copy of The Hunger Games, a story of teenage freedom fighters trying overthrow a government led by the corrupt and more mature members of society, but sadly this was not the case. Instead...we have another 'Twilight Rip-off.' Our lead actress Shailene Woodley unfortunately gives a wooden performance for almost two-thirds of the film, and only really emotes near the end. The other performers follow this example, such as Theo James who plays Tris's love interest Four. Kate Winslet performance, while not wooden, is ultimately forgettable which is the most upsetting as she's essentially the biggest name attached to the movie.

The plot is also something to question, as it comes off very confusing. Throughout the movie I had to keep asking why a Divergent is such a bad thing. Sure it could disrupt the general operation of things, but I would imagine being a Divergent would be a good thing. Not only do they not succumb to subliminal suggestion, but they also think and strategize differently than the other factions, so therefore they would be perfect for military applications. Whatever the excuse, the rest of factions of an unreasonable fear and that in turn effects the story overall and in the end, makes it a dull and boring movie.

The only good thing I could say about the movie is that the faction system is a pretty interesting concept. Each one with a certain set of skills and abilities that is used to improve the lives of others, while at the same time creates a sort of tension and animosity between the factions. Also another good thing to point out is that the film was shot in Chicago, the as where the book was set in, so I guess we should applaud for consistency.

In the end the movie was a dull mess and if you have to see it get it at a RedBox Vendor, or you can just read the book.

My final score for Divergent:

3 out of 10

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