Divergent (2014) is the latest film to join the sci-fi franchises of Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Twilight. It is set in the future after a big war that devastates the world. Luckily, many people in Chicago survive. In order to prevent future wars, the lasting people are split into five different factions according to their personality traits. As couples have children, the kids are born into their parents’ factions. When they come of age, they take a personality test which determines the faction that best suits them. In most cases, the children stay in the factions of their birth. Yet, during the swearing in ceremony, they can choose any faction, despite their family and the suggestion of the test. There is no opportunity to make the wrong choice; if it does not work out, they will end up factionless.
Tris (Shailene Woodley) happens to be a bit different than everyone else. She does not fit into one specific category, making her a divergent. The powers that be do not like divergents, because they cannot be controlled. Thus, Tris must keep this knowledge to herself. Otherwise, she will be signing her own death wish. Tris was born into Abnegation, a selfless faction that rejects vanity. Trusting her instincts, she chooses to switch to Dauntless, the military faction, and is in for the hardest challenge of her life.
The movie comes from a best-selling book of the same name. The plot of the film, which was already laid out for the filmmakers, is exciting and very interesting, offering its own spin on futuristic societies. The biggest task the filmmakers had was to be able to take this story from paper to visual images. They succeeded with the selected cast and with the costume design. The outfits clearly demonstrated which person belonged to which group, as well as reflected each group’s traits. For instance, Abnegation’s outfits are plain colors, nothing bold or flashy. They wear loose materials to avoid making any of the members too sexy. The material of the clothing also looks as if it is recycled as they do not like to be wasteful.
Conversely, what serves as a constant reminder that the setting is not real is the excessive use of CGI generated images. These CGI landscapes look fake, resulting in a loss of authenticity. In addition, the actual physical sets are more stylized than practical. For instance, Abnegation’s houses are completely bare, except for the necessities. However, the way the houses are decorated, they do not look lived in. Instead, they look like an art installation. Moments like these also keep the audience at arm’s length, demonstrating an idea as opposed to a reality. Overall, the movie is entertaining, but it is not as well executed as Harry Potter for instance. It will be interesting to see what the franchise does next.