Feature Presentation: Divergent

DivergentDivergent starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ashley Judd, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, Tony Goldwyn, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer, and Kate Winslet

Summit Entertainment, 2014. Rated PG-13.

Synopsis: Beatrice “Tris” Pryor lives in post-apocalypse Chicago in which society has been divided into five factions: Dauntless (the brave), Erudite (the intellectual), Abegnation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), and Candor (the honest). When she takes the test designed to tell her to which faction she belongs and the results are inconclusive, Tris finds herself having to choose her own path. Choosing to become part of the Dauntless, Tris discovers another side of herself and the society around her, leading her to uncover the darker side of the fragile system that holds their world together.

I didn’t have a whole lot of expectations when it came to this movie, and to be honest, I was glad I didn’t because so much of this movie was a complete train wreak. I liked the casting (Kate Winslet makes a rather diabolical villain and I’m glad to see her changing up her repertoire a little bit), but it was so hard to take Woodley and Elgort seriously in these roles as brother and sister when they were paired as a couple in The Fault in Our Stars. It’s not actually their fault that they have good chemistry or that they play well off each other, but I spent a large majority of the film having to remind myself that the characters were not going to go into a corner and make out like I subconsciously wanted. My other issue with the movie was that the writers appeared not to have even read the book and instead chose to get a summary from Roth herself (who was a producer) and then stick in bits and pieces from the Wikipedia page. They give a lot of screen time to Winslet’s character, which gives us a chance to see how multi-faceted she is, but doesn’t give Jeanine the darker edge we got from her in the book. I didn’t like how they explained – or rather didn’t explain – Tris’s visit from her mother and the visit to her brother. Fans of the book will notice numerous plot threads get dropped abruptly or just left out all together, largely due to running time, but there are so many holes in the story that, again, makes the adaptation hard to take seriously. Granted, I have seen worse book-to-film translations (I’m looking at you, Princess Diaries), but this movie is so focused on cashing in on the fact that its source material is a best-selling YA novel and making an action film that we’re losing what made us like the book in the first place. It certainly has entertainment value, but fans of the book will likely be split between loving it and thinking its crap. On the plus side, it has a pretty kicking soundtrack that makes for some good workout music.

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