Movie Review: Divergent (2014)

Divergent

Plot

After years of war and discord, Chicago closed itself off from the outside dangers and divided its society into five factions – each faction representing and developing characteristics needed to make society successful. Abnegation lead the government because they were selfless and that is an important part in leadership, Amity farmed and they were the lovers of peace, Candor told the truth, Erudite were the intelligent part and found resources to keep people safe and healthy and the Dauntless were the brave upholding the law and protecting the citizens.

Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) lives with her parents Andrew (Tony Goldwyn) and Natalie (Ashley Judd) and her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) in Abnegation. The year a teenager turns sixteen they have to undertake a test to establish which faction they are most likely to succeed in but it is made clear that the choice remains with them and that they can choose.

Beatrice tests with a Dauntless woman named Tori (Maggie Q). Her results are inconclusive, and Tori tells Beatrice that it means she is Divergent – something that makes her not easy to control and will cause her death. She tells Beatrice to pretend she was sick and not tell anyone her results.

That night at dinner their parents tell them that the Erudite, led by Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet) is spreading lies about the Abnegation because she wants to control Chicago. One of the stories she is spreading is that one of the Abnegation leaders, Marcus Eaton (Ray Stevenson) abused his son Tobias and that is the reason Tobias defected from his faction when he had the option.

The next day is the choosing ceremony and Caleb defects towards Erudite and although Beatrice intends to choose Abnegation she chooses the Dauntless faction she’s always admired from afar. Beatrice meets her fellow initiates, Christina (Zoe Kravitz) and Al (Christian Madsenn) who defected from Candor and Will (Ben Loyd-Hughes), an Erudite transfer. The new initiates are immediately put to the test when they have to board a train running at full speed. When they arrive at the Dauntless compound they are introduced to Eric (Jai Courtney), a young and brutal Dauntless leader. He tells them they need to jump into a dark pit to get to the compound and if they don’t they have failed their first test and will become Factionless, homeless beggars who belong to no faction and is the outcasts of their society. Tris volunteers to jump first and is helped from the net she lands in by Four (Theo James), the initiates instructor. Beatrice introduces herself as Tris when Four asks her name.

Eric tells the Dauntless initiates that there are only space for a certain number and that the weakest will become Factionless. As training starts, Tris knows that she will be thrown out if she doesn’t improve. She gets her ass kicked by Molly, a girl nearly twice her size. She slowly improves until a fight with Peter (Miles Tanner) an Erudite transfer who mocked her from day one. She is beaten unconscious and is hospitalized. Christina and Will visit her in hospital and tell her that Eric wants her thrown out. Determined, she chases after the train leaving with the initiates and helps win a capture-the-flag game. Her standing increases but she is still below the line but it is undeniable that she is getting better. Four also gives her a few tips and becomes kinder than what he initially seemed.

Tris makes the bar and is allowed to progress into the second stage of training but she and Al, her friend, are in the bottom spots so they are obviously competing against each other. The next phase of training is simulations where initiates experience their worst fears. Tris’ divergence makes her realise simulations aren’t real and she is able to exit her dreams in record time. Four is testing Tris and notices her secret. He warns her to conceal her secret and to exit her fear landscape the way Dauntless would – by finding a way to protect themselves and thus waking up.

Tris is terrified that she will die because of her divergence and goes to see her brother at the Erudite compound. He tells her that Erudite is planning to overthrow the Abnegation for leadership of their society. She is angry with him because she sees it as betrayal against their parents. On her way out she meets Jeanine Matthews again and Jeanine wants reassurance that Tris is truly Dauntless and that Tris will follow orders like a Dauntless soldier, even if it means hurting someone you love. Tris manages to lie herself out of it and can leave the Erudite compound safely.

Back at the Dauntless compound Tris is attacked and taken to the chasm where her assailants want to throw her off. Due to her training she puts up a massive fight but is still overpowered. She pulls a mask off one of the people and it is her alleged friend Al. Four arrives and saves Tris from death. She spends the night in Four’s room where he sleeps on the floor.

The next day Al begs Tris for forgiveness but she refuses and orders him to stay away from her. Later that day they pull Al’s body from the chasm where he committed suicide. Tris is devastated but Four tells her that fear makes people like Al weak and do crazy things and that his death wasn’t her fault. He tells her that he will help her survive her final test by taking her into his fear landscape and teaching her how to act Dauntless instead of Divergent.

In Four’s fear landscape she realises crucial points to Four’s characters. He is named Four because he has only ever had four fears: the fear of heights, confinement, his father and killing innocents. Four is revealed to be Marcus Eaton’s son, Tobias, the son that allegedly (and truthfully) left Abnegation to flee his abusive father. After they wake up they admit their feelings and kiss and Tris tells Four that she wants to take it slow. Four shows her the Erudite at their compound busy with some secret meetings with the Dauntless leaders.

The day of her final test Tris passes with flying colours and she is initiated without anyone suspecting her secret. Eric injects her with a tracking serum and she is uncomfortable with it. The serum turns out to be mind control serum, manipulating the Dauntless to attack the Abnegation. Divergent people are unaffected and Tris blends in because not doing so means certain death. On the way to Abnegation, Tris finds Four and when he touches her hand she realises that he too is Divergent.

At Abnegation, Tris and Four is walking with the controlled Dauntless when Eric spots them. A twitch in Four’s eye is all it takes to reveal their secret and they are taken captive. Jeanine orders Four to come with her but Tris to be executed. Tris’s mother shows up and takes her to safety but is killed along the way.

What happened to Four? Will Tris ever see him again? Will the Dauntless wipe out Abnegation? Can Jeanine Matthews be stopped? What does open war mean to their fragile society?

Rating: 6.5/10

Divergent could have been way more than what they came up with. It wasn’t that bad, but I think you would be very confused if you didn’t read the book. I loved the casting on the film and the special effects and the chemistry between Tris and Four and how dangerous Eric looked, and compared to the other book to movie adaption I’ve seen this year, Vampire Academy, it is a raging success. If you forgot what I thought about that, go read it here.

The movie didn’t feel rushed at all, and I’m sure they were dedicated to producing a loyal adaption. It followed script well and didn’t go overboard. I didn’t wish for it to end quickly or wondered why the fighting scenes were taking so long.

Why didn’t I grade it higher then, you ask? I felt it lacked emotion. I didn’t feel drawn to the characters as much I did in the books and there were critically few times that I was attached. The scene where Tris holds her dead mother was brilliantly done. I think there Shailene Woodley showed her star power and it gives a glimmer of hope that the sequels can be much better.

I really liked the Ferris Wheel scene and how fearless Tris came through. I loved Four’s bafflement with her terrifying lack of fear. The knife throwing scene? It was okay. Not so much came through the way I wanted it to but it didn’t deviate from the book.

Al’s weakness and Peter’s reproachable personality should have been given more screen time. Do the readers of Divergent remember Al crying him to sleep at night? I do, and I think it shows exactly how he didn’t fit into the Dauntless crowd.

I am not getting into the big Is Hunger Games better or is Divergent better debate because for me they are both exceptional ideas. The storylines are only similar in the fact that it is in the same genre. Veronica Roth is my hero for not taking some of Suzanne Collins’s ideas and tweaking it just enough to not become a law suit. I will make my point that I like the Divergent series, as books, more, but that the Hunger Games movies far outstrip the Divergent adaption.

What I liked

The casting of Tris, Four and Eric. They were AMAZING

Tris Prior/Shailene Woodley

I think this will be the year of Shailene Woodley. She is an amazing actress. She was so good as Tris. I think she was perfectly cast and deserves praise.

Eric/Jay Courtenay.

How absolutely cool was he? I admit that he was a bit under pierced and under tattooed but he came across as slightly flamboyant but still such a douche bag. He did a good job in keeping it secret if he is evil or just a plain assface. Also, I found him ridiculously sexy for some demented reason. Who else thinks he looks a bit like Macklemore?

Four/Theo James.

I have some issues how they didn’t fully developed the character. Four is a messed up guy who was beaten by his extremist father, escaped to the most notorious faction and gained respect there, and they just didn’t show that as well as they should have. Theo James was rocking it. He is ridiculously sexy but not a pretty boy and I found his attitude spot on. I loved the bluntness between him and Tris and how she didn’t mind putting him in his place when he deserved it.

The choosing ceremony I really liked. I liked the imagery of how perfectly divided the factions sit and how they are separated but functioning in society.

Kate Winslet as Jeanine Mathews. Well cast but I disagree with the amount of show time she got because she isn’t so present in the first book.

How the Dauntless were portrayed. They looked so fun loving and fearless and free.

The movie didn’t feel stretched (major points) no plots were changed and the fight scenes didn’t drag on until eternity.

Four’s tattoos looked amazing.

Ashley Judd as Tris’ mom worked well. She fitted into the plain beauty of the Abnegation.

The chemistry between Tris and Four is off the charts. Something that puts Divergent just a bit ahead of Hunger Games that Tris and Four is the only two people in the relationship and that there is never any triangle of any sort.

What I didn’t like

The plenty of screen time Jeanine Matthews got but there was no time to include crucial plot lines like how bad Peter really was, Al’s cowardness and all Four’s little tantrums and everything. I get that they wanted to include the star power Kate Winslet has but I think it is more important that viewers know what is going to happen later on in the sequels.

Molly (Amy Newbold) is always an enemy, not a respected rival.

Peter never got his ass handed back to him.

Soundtrack didn’t work with the movie material.

I felt a lack of emotion coming through. I expected to be enthralled by the movie but sometimes thought about other stuff in between. It wasn’t that gripping and I thought.

Compared to Captain America: Winter Soldier (Yes I know the vast difference between the two stories) if I had to choose I would go watch CA again. That movie really made me feel something and apart from Tris and Four kissing (hot stuff) and Tris sobbing against her mother’s dead body I didn’t really connect with the characters.

Have you seen Divergent? What did you think?

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5 thoughts on “Movie Review: Divergent (2014)

  1. Great review friend, but I must say that I was not sold by this film AT ALL 😦

    I thought the movie was RIDICULOUSLY long (well, it felt it. It wasn’t actually, just not enough was happening).

    A lot of my favourite scenes were just desecrated. 😦

      • Always a pleasure. Yeah, well, we all know what a judgmental bitch I can be when it comes to book adaptions. This one? I wanted to get a job as a book slapper immediately and go smack someone upside their heads. I scored it even lower than when I spoke to you… considering dropping it less than the reevaluated one, too. Damn.

        Well, I definitely won’t be checking VA out EVER, but Hunger Games was awesome, and I am looking forward to Mockingjay: Part 1. Rix is, too, it is one of the only movies he is waiting for in theatre this year aside from Godzilla and Interstellar hahaha.

  2. Pingback: 2014 Movies: Part 2 | Life of this city girl

  3. Pingback: Top Fifteen Favorite stars in young Hollywood | Life of this city girl

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