Sunday, April 20, 2014

Movie Review: "Divergent" (2014)

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Director: Neil Burger
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 19 minutes

In a dystopic future, it has been declared that the best way for society to survive is for the people to be separated into different factions; each faction is given a specific life task. There are 5 factions a person can join: Abnegation is for the selfless, Erudite is for the intelligent, Amity is for the peaceful, Candor is for the honest, and Dauntless is for the brave. Each child is raised in the faction of their parent until they reach a certain age. Then, they are given a test to determine where they should be, based on their personalities. Tris (Shailene Woodley) was raised in Abnegation, the faction which was put in charge because of their selfless nature, though she never fully felt like she belonged. When the day of her test arrives, she finds out why: she is told that she is Divergent and shows traits for all factions. Divergents are viewed as a threat to the system of life they have all come to know. She was warned by Tori (Maggie Q), who administered the test, not to tell anyone and that her results would be falsified to Abnegation. In the end, it’s still Tris’ choice: what faction will she choose? During the choosing ceremony, she picks Dauntless, as she has always had a strong desire for adventure and has always wanted more for herself than a selfless life. She must survive the rigorous tests of her new faction, often administered by Four (Theo James) and conceal her true identity as a Divergent since being discovered is a guaranteed death sentence. 

Yet another book-to-movie adaptation we have not read. Don't judge us.
I have lots of friends who have read the book but disliked the movie. Again, it is our philosophy to review them as separate entities, so that's what we'll do.

As a movie, this one wasn't too bad. In fact, it was pretty good! It had some really great action sequences. The set/production/art design was a cool take on a dystopic future setting. The story as a whole is quite interesting and leaves the door open for all sorts of political, social and moral commentary. Shailene Woodley is a flawless pixie queen and was a good fit for the character of Tris, in our opinion. Theo James, who up until about a week prior to seeing the movie we thought was James Franco's little brother Dave Franco, was also intriguing as Four, though I caught the (obvious) plot twist with his character about 10 minutes into the movie. Kate Winslet is always fun to watch act and her role in this movie is fierce and cold which she plays brilliantly.

Is this movie anything different than loads of other sci-fi dystopian teenage melodramas? Not really, and it does fall short of counterparts like "The Hunger Games." However, this movie excels where Summit Entertainment's sister film "Twilight" fails: the lead female character starts out as a weakling lost in a sea of self-doubt, but instead of letting it get her down and wallowing in her sorrow and pain, she builds herself up into a strong, fearless powerhouse. Of course, there's a romance involved in "Divergent," and we found ourselves wondering the other day, what movie doesn't revolve around the heart? But the chemistry between Woodley and James is palpable and believable, and if the two got separated or broke up, I get the sense that she'd be just fine without him.

My Rating: 6.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 41%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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