Young Adult books have become the latest gold rush for Hollywood. Once comic book films began to run out of home run, or even solid ideas, producers and executives began to mine for new franchise meat. Whenever a “Twilight” or “The Hunger Games” type success occurs, the material gets combed over further. Even with the few successful franchises, most of the executions fail to find an audience or scare up any profit at all. “Divergent” is just the latest attempt to build a new franchise.
In a future, dystopian Chicago, society has been separated into five independent factions. Like all communities, each faction provides a necessary element of life. The thinkers are the scientists and researchers; kind-hearted Earth-conscious folks tend to the crops; those who crave complete honesty are the judicial system; altruistic minds care for others; and the fearless are the cities militia. In order to keep peace, citizens are told to restrict their interaction and social interaction to the faction they find themselves associated with. However, when a child reaches a certain age, a test is done to help the child to determine his or her future. Despite the results, they may choose any one of the five to call home moving forward.
The film follows Tris (Shailene Woodley) on the eve of her test. Unfortunately, the results are inconclusive, showing her that she is capable of being more than a single thing. Forced to suppress her unique nature, she aims to live the life of a soldier. As she learns more about her new home, she learns of a potential conspiracy that could unravel her peaceful society.
All Young Adult fiction, especially science fiction, is riddled with dystopian worlds and people refusing to conform. “Divergent” suffers at trying to make a dozen worn out ideas work. Instead of injecting a fresh or new perspective, the execution and those involved focus on the paint-by-numbers story, which tactlessly inserts a romance that appears forced and unnatural. Chemistry is absent in most of the characters despite the established pedigree of actresses Kate Winslet and Woodley.
The film calls into question the validity of yet another strong woman who has a man to help her succeed. We need more Katniss, less Bella. But more importantly, we need a more engaging script to justify paying admission. 2.5 out of 5 stars
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