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'Divergent' surpasses its literary roots

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In a future, where a great war has decimated the world's population, the survivors have reclaimed Chicago, walling it off from the outside world. In an attempt to suppress the unrest which originally lead to war, their society was divided into 5 factions based on specific personality traits. Amity, created by those who believed that conflict was the cause of their war, are in charge of agriculture and food production. Candor, the law keeper, was created by those who believed in openness and honesty, blaming deception and treachery for the war. Erudite, formed by those who blamed ignorance for the war, are the doctors, teachers, academics, and scientists. Dauntless, the police and city defenders, were formed by the courageous, those who blamed cowardice for the war. Abnegation, formed by those who blamed selfishness for the war, is responsible for running the government.

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While each child is raised in the faction into which they are born, at the age of 16, individuals must be tested to determine their aptitude for one faction or another. Then, on the following day, they must choose one of the five factions, staying with or leaving their family, for their chosen faction. Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) and her brother Caleb, members of Abnegation since birth, are of age and ready for their tests. While they both were prepared for it, Beatrice was not prepared for the results of her aptitude test, a result which leaves her a member of a secret and hunted faction, the Divergent.

While "Divergent" is closely based on a series of novels by Veronica Roth, Neil Burger and the film's writers have crafted a story which is faithful to look and feel of the book, while cutting a good number of pointless, foolish, and somewhat mean spirited tangents present in the novel. While another cookie cutter adaptation was expected, the strength of the performances, refinement of focus, and appropriate cuts make "Divergent" an entertaining and intriguing adventure through a society which is obviously blind to its own despair and self imposed captivity. Surprisingly, unlike its Twilight and Hunger Game fore-bearers, "Divergent" starts its run on footing, more stable and more entertaining that its progenitive text. Shailene Woodley projects a level of believability and confidence, which is often lacking in the initial barrage of a feature film saga's salvo. Even the femme fatales of box office giants like Twilight and Hunger Games had trouble projecting anything genuine so early in their sagas. Woodley may not be a Kristen Stewart, nor a Jennifer Lawrence, but in her case that appears to be a very good thing. If you're in the mood for a post-apocalyptic adventure, where Kate Winslet (Jeanine Matthews) is the baddie, where twenty somethings place teenagers, and where trains require a running start, whether getting on or off, then "Divergent" may be the appropriate diversion and worth the price of admission.


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