Saturday, March 22, 2014

Divergent review

By Nico Beland
Movie Review: C (2 ½ stars)
Shailene Woodley and Theo James as Beatrice “Tris” Prior and Four in Divergent

            In the tradition of teen fantasies based on popular novels like Twilight and The Hunger Games, here’s another one, Divergent, based on the Veronica Roth book of the same name and directed by Neil Burger (Limitless, The Lucky Ones, The Illusionist). I’m not sure how it holds up as a film adaptation of the book, I haven’t read it, but as a stand-alone action film, it’s entertaining enough.
            Granted this is no masterpiece, not even close, but I didn’t think it was as bad as people were making it out to be. The story kept my interest all the way through, the cast, while nothing special, they seem to pull off their roles pretty well, and the special effects and action scenes can be pretty awesome at times, even though things got a little unfocused during the climax.
            In a futuristic Chicago, people are divided into five different and distinct factions, Abnegation (selfless), Amity (kind), Candor (honest), Erudite (intelligent), and Dauntless (brave) based on their personalities. A teenage girl named Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley-The Descendants, The Spectacular Now) discovers she is Divergent, from her test results, which means she can fit into more than one faction.
            She joins the Dauntless faction and is trained brutally to become a member, punching bags, target practice, and even fighting people, with the aide of Dauntless trainer, Four (Theo James-Underworld: Awakening). Tris soon realizes there is an evil plot brewing and it’s up to her to figure out what it is and put a stop to it, before her seemingly perfect society is destroyed.
            For what the movie is, Divergent isn’t awful, it’s not Twilight or Mortal Instruments bad, but there’s no comparison between this and The Hunger Games movies, those films are better executed and more chilling than this flick. Also many of the training scenes and even the concept of people being divided into different groups reminded me of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire.
            One of the things I praise about this film are the visual effects, while trippy at times they’re absolute eye candy, especially the scenes where Tris and Four are in each other’s minds and trying to face their fears, they’re over the top but enjoyable to watch and has a decent amount of suspense. Besides the visuals, a lot of the action and stunts look spectacular, there’s this great scene where Tris is zip lining through Chicago and it’s incredible and a joy to watch, especially on a giant screen.
            Honestly I wish I read the book first, so I could compare the two and point out the things they left out or added to the movie, but I guess my only real issue with the film is some of the writing can be laughably cheesy, especially some of the lovey-dovey scenes, but it’s not as bad as Twilight’s writing and it doesn’t kill the movie, especially when there were some great moments that stood out for me.
            Also for young actors, the cast’s acting isn’t that bad, Shailene Woodley does a decent job portraying Tris and Theo James is great as Four AKA the Jacob Black of the film, okay, last Twilight reference I promise, and Kate Winslet (Titanic, Contagion) is great as the scheming  Jeanine Matthews.
            If you enjoyed films like The Hunger Games or even Ender’s Game, there might be something in here for you to enjoy. Though I can’t say everyone should see this movie, especially if you read the book, because most people who read the book usually don’t find the movie very good, unless they’re done very well like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, or The Lord of the Rings. 
            So take it for what it’s worth and pick a side…and faction.


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