I just reviewed The Mortal Instruments the other day and now I’ve watched another movie aimed at the lucrative young adult market. But will Divergent -also based on a popular book series-be any better?
In a future dystopian Chicago 16-year-old Tris (Shailene Woodley) is preparing to choice one of five fraction of society to join, Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), and Erudite (the intelligent). When she takes the test to determine her fraction, Tris discovers that she is Divergent-meaning she has qualities belonging to more than one fraction. Being Divergent means her life is in danger and she must protect her secret at all cost.
So it’s no Hunger Games but compared to The Mortal Instruments, Divergent is a masterpiece. Woodley is the main reason why this movie works. She is likeable, sympathetic and interesting to watch. With this and The Fault In Our Stars Woodley is surely becoming a name to watch. She has great chemistry with co-star Theo James, as Dauntless instructor Four (stupid name though). The only thing is that Woodley looks about 12 while James looks like he’s pushing 30 which makes some of their scenes a bit uncomfortable. The supporting characters are mostly forgettable or interchangeable, the only stand outs are Zoe Kravitz as Tris’ brutally honest friend Christina and in particular Miles Teller as Peter, a fellow dauntless transfer determined to make Tris’ life hell.
Most of the problems I had with the film is the same as I had with the book. The Dauntless, the fraction Tris chooses (not a spoiler) their definitive quality is meant to be brave but it comes across more as stupid. They throw themselves off of trains, the transfers are made to beat each other up to, all to prove how tough they are. I wouldn’t trust them to be bouncers of a club never mind protect a whole city. The whole notion of fractions and Divergent is a bit silly as well. After all how many people are determined by one quality, people are a mixture of many different strengths and weaknesses.
Although it’s understandable for the age rating, but I was disappointed that some of the violence from the book is missing, particularly Peter’s violent attack on a rival transfer. I was also a bit distracted by the fact that Tris’ brother Caleb was played by Ansel Elgort, Woodley’s co-star and love interest in The Fault In Our Stars. It could have done with being a bit shorter with the running time. But all in all it’s an entertaining movie that will leave you wanting to know what happens next.
Rating 3/5 – a star turn from Woodley makes this new teen franchise worth watching