It’s been three years since the Harry Potter and Twilight movie series, two of the most profitable film franchises of all-time, ended. Ever since then, the search was on to find the next big movie franchise based on a book. Many have tried, but very few have reached anywhere near Harry Potter or Twilight levels of success.
Enter Divergent, one of two book-to-film adaptations on this list who attempted to be the next big thing. I saw this movie through VOD in July; its ambitions high but my expectations low. Seriously I was expecting a sappy, stupid bomb of a film before I even pressed play. However, boredom had the best of me, so why not be adventurous?
Divergent is based on the book by Veronica Roth. This film takes place in a utopian, gated society sometime during the apocalypse. The society utilizes a type of class system with five major “factions”: Erudite, Abnegation, Amity, Candor, and Dauntless. A person in the society takes a test at a certain age to determine which faction they will belong to. At the end of the test, they must choose their correct faction. If they fail to meet the standards of said faction, they are casted out and are classified under a sixth category known as Factionless (the lowest possible class).
The story follows a girl named Beatrice (later Tris), an Abnegation-born who comes of age for the faction test. Her results are dangerously unusual. The administrator informs her that there is yet a seventh faction type known as Divergent. Divergents show qualities of all five factions, but are outlawed out of fear. She keeps this a secret as advised and blindly chooses the Dauntless faction. From there she must attempt to prove herself to be a member of Dauntless while keeping her abnormal quality a secret. To make things more difficult, there may be a war between two of the classes which may affect the Dauntless faction.
As I said, I didn’t expect to like this movie a single bit. My untrained impression was Twilight meets Hunger Games. It didn’t help that no one I knew was talking about the film so I could get a feel for what I was getting into. To my relieving surprise I was more than wrong. This movie provides an interesting world, a good amount of action, and a captivating story.
The story in many ways is kind of a mixture of popular ideas which is off-putting at first glance. But when you’re actually watching the movie and going through its motions, you’ll jump right in be invested by the half hour. The first thirty minutes is mainly introduction and exposition followed by the action provided once you enter the Dauntless faction. This is where the story itself picks up. If you plan to watch this, give it time before giving up on it.
The story is helped by what I would consider a fascinating society. While I totally wouldn’t buy such a society existing, it’s a fantastical scenario that you can’t help but get into. It’s a society based on efficiency to aid coexistence in the limited land you learn they have left. I’m very interested to see how they handle what lied beyond the walls when its sequel comes out in March.
With that said, the film has very interesting set-pieces that capture the community they live in. The sequences with the artificial test simulations are also nice looking. CG effects aren’t used all that much in the movie, but they do well in the few areas where their required.
The acting is decent. It won’t win any awards, but it’s effective enough to where you see the character rather than the actor. That’s all the film really needs after all. Shailene Woodley (best known for Secret Life of the American Teenager) plays Tris, and does great as the relatable protagonist. She is very convincing in the struggle to attempt to be someone she’s probably not while also trying to be herself. Theo James portrays Four, one of the Dauntless leaders. His performance is also commendable especially when he starts showing a surprising amount of depth.
The film sports a pretty intense score as well. The tune that probably sticks most is when Tris enters the test simulations. Very ominous and suspenseful. And basic production values are also impressive as expected, including camerawork and lighting.
I really feel that this film could use a little more love than it deserves. Glad to see it has enough of a following to continue as a series. If you were initially turned-off by this film for whatever reason, maybe it’s worth a gander if you run into it on Netflix or VOD. It’s a definite rental if you have any inkling of interest in the plot I described, I’d seek it out. You may be as surprised as I was.
View #15 here!
I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!