Saturday, March 22, 2014

Review: Divergent

                        'Divergent': A Unique Sci-Fi Film That Almost Surpasses Its Source Material

                 Nowadays, whenever there is an adaptation of a YA book, it either prospers into a franchise like The Hunger Games and Twilight, or flounders like Beautiful Creatures, The Host, and to some degree The Mortal Instruments. But after reading the book Divergent, and seeing the film adaptation, I hope that it ends up in the former rather than the latter category.

              Divergent is set in a dystopian version of Chicago that is divided into five factions that were created to resolve human errors and are based on personality traits: Amity for the peaceful, Candor for the honest, Erudite for the intelligent, Dauntless for the courageous, and Abnegation for the selfless. The main protagonist, Beatrice "Tris" Prior (Shailene Woodley), live in Abnegation even though selflessness hasn't been her strongest quality. At the age of 16, kids are assigned to take an aptitude test to see which faction they are best suited in and are given the choice to either stay in their faction or transfer. When Beatrice takes the test, her results are inconclusive and is labeled Divergent, which is said to be dangerous as those who are Divergent are able to exercise their independent will. Eventually, Beatrice uncovers a conspiracy going on to cause anarchy within the factions.

            What I Liked About It:
           First off, I loved how the film was able to stay truthful to the book even with some changes done. In the beginning, Beatrice gives a voiceover narration to give a rundown of the different factions, which wasn't in the book, but definitely was a nice touch to introduce those who haven't read the book to this different world. The ending was even slightly changed, but I liked that as well. Plus, I liked how the actors capture the characters they portray exactly how I pictured them in the book. Shailene Woodley plays Beatrice, or Tris, perfectly. She brilliantly portrays this character who is timid at first, but slowly transcends into a warrior. Theo James, who plays Four, her love interest, is also very good and both Woodley and James have great chemistry. Hopefully, those two go places after this movie or franchise. Another actress I'd love to bring up is Kate Winslet, who plays Jeanine Matthews, the film's main antagonist. What was great about her performance is that even though you kind of know she is the bad guy, she still has an enigmatic quality to her that makes you unsure about her. It is very interesting to see Winslet do a film like this, but I'm actually quite happy to. All the actors play their roles very well. Another thing that I would say is interesting is how even though it is a sci-fi film, the action doesn't really happen until the end and like the book, takes its time with its story and keeps the same themes that the book has, including wondering where you belong and how having different personalities is a part of human nature.

           Another thing I liked was the costume design and set pieces. I loved how the different factions are color coded so that you can tell who is in what faction. While I was watching it, I actually played a fun little game of wondering which faction I would belong in. It's definitely not Dauntless, that's for sure.

         What I Didn't Like About It:

        Overall, Divergent is a solid adaptation of the book that I hope is among the ranks of Hunger Games and Harry Potter. It features a unique concept, has a great futuristic look, and great performances from the cast. I would highly recommend this because it has a little something for everybody. It's got romance and eye candy for the ladies and some action and sci-fi for the men.

Rating: 4/5