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Movie Review: ‘Divergent’ Lofty Expectations Met with Mediocre Results

'Divergent' Movie Review


“If you don’t fit into a category then they can’t control you.”– Maggie Q as Tori

Beatrice tries blind conformity, but wants to be so much more.
Beatrice tries blind conformity, but wants to be so much more.
Summit Ent.
Where free thinking will get you killed.
Summit Ent.

What’s good: Great concept with really fun stunts and special effects.

What’s not good: Weak villain, slow moving story, and not enough action.

What happened: One of our biggest fears in life is losing our freedom. Free will is a precious gift that must be protected at all costs. Unfortunately, some believe that your independence must be controlled for the greater good. While ‘Divergent’ is a decent film that offers an interesting commentary on this issue, it just wasn't as entertaining as it should have been.

Everyone in Beatrice’s (Shailene Woodley) world has their entire lives planned out for them. She was raised to become a public servant, but wanted to be so much more. Beatrice’s one uncommon trait is that she isn’t ruled by fear. The time has come where she must take the test to determine what the rest of her life will be. Unfortunately, what happens next puts her life in serious danger. Now she must let go of her old life and take on a new name (Tris) and a new home.

Four (Theo James) is very secretive about his past. He watches over Tris and is beginning to suspect just how special she is. Meanwhile, Jeanine’s (Kate Winslet) intentions may seem innocent, but her plan for peace will ultimately lead to death, destruction, and bloodshed. Tris must survive the trials of her new home and stop Jeanine before she completes her sadistic plan of total domination.

There are obvious comparisons between ‘Divergent’ and ‘The Hunger Games’ and with good reason. Both feature a dystopian future society that uses fear to control its people. ‘The Hunger Games’ is much more entertaining and intense though. The best moments in ‘Divergent’ are its stunts and special effects. It is pretty fun to watch Tris and the others jump aboard a moving train and fight each other in combat. Her fight scenes are brutal to watch too. What’s also good is seeing her navigate around the various psychological tests they put her through. The only real action in this film is saved until the last twenty minutes and it is exciting. Shailene Woodley and Theo James deliver adequate performances throughout. Their relationship grows at a believable pace so you will root for them to be together. Also, pay very close attention to the narration at the beginning as a lot of important information is provided.

This highly anticipated bestselling novel turned film really leaves a lot to be desired. First of all, too much time is spent on Tris’ fight to make her new faction. Her training takes up over two-thirds of the film. The brewing battle between the factions is far more interesting and should have been a focal point of the movie. This made ‘Divergent’ feel incredibly slow and boring. Also, the supposed villain Jeanine isn’t bad enough. She needed to be much more menacing so we would see just how evil she truly was. Instead, this character comes across as very weak. Finally, this movie lacks any real intensity or suspense. You never get the sense that Tris is in any actual danger until the very end. ‘Divergent’ would have been better served showing Tris and Four trying to uncover the mystery behind her abilities and Jeanine’s plan for destruction.

Bottom Line: Divergent’ provides lots of action and special effects, but not much substance. You should wait until it becomes a rental unless you are a huge fan of the novel.

Grade: C+

Rating: PG-13 Run time: 2 hours, 19 minutes

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