Divergent (2014): One Choice Can Transform You

Posted: March 22, 2014 in Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
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divergent_poster_hqIn a post-war world, Chicago may be one of the only standing civilizations left. In order to maintain order in this new world, society has been divided into five factions: Abnegation (selfless/public service), Amity (peaceful/farming), Candor (honest/judiciary), Dauntless (brave/public safety), and Erudite (intelligent/scholars). Though her parents are with Abnegation, Beatrice feels out of place. When she goes in for her exam, the results are inconclusive. She is told that she fell into multiple categories and would be identified as a divergent, which would be against the new societal order. Keeping it a secret, she goes to the selection ceremony and chooses to switch to Dauntless. Her trials to remain in the faction start immediately, putting her to the limit and forcing her to deal with the conflicting issue of her divergent status.

Starring: Shailene Woodley (Beatrice/Tris), Theo James (Four), Ashely Judd (Natalie), Jai Courtney (Eric), Ray Stevenson (Marcus), Zoe Kravitz (Christina), Miles Teller (Peter), Tony Goldwin (Andrew), Ansel Elgort (Caleb), Maggie Q (Tori), Mekhi Phifer (Max), Kate Winslet (Jeanine), Ben Lloyd-Hughes (Will)

In this teen novel driven story, Woodley was a good choice for the lead role. She already proved her ability to act in The Descendants, so this allowed her to take more of a prominent role. She maintained a quiet toughness that built into more of an external strength later in the film and was able to do just as much acting with her words as her actions. Theo James was a little too reserved through the film to get to know his character. In a similar fashion, Winslet is kept a little too buttoned-up to understand how she developed her controlling persona.

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Neil Burger’s adaptation of Veronica Roth’s novel stayed close to the original. Beatrice struggled prior to her Choosing Day, as she never seemed to follow the public service ideals naturally. There was a growing resistance in her. When she chose Dauntless, she had the mental ability to be brave but lacked the physical presence. She had to fight through the trials and failed a lot of the time. Falling below the cutoff line for most of the process, her mental bravery helped her figure out how to survive. It also did not help that she made an impression on Four and had a bit of his help. When it eventually was discovered that Four and her mother were divergent as well, her mission changed to try and save society from destroying itself, particularly the entire Abnegation population.

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Human nature was the clear theme of this film. Like other post-war sci-fi films and stories, a new order has a strong grip on maintaining a certain status quo. In this case, Jeanine and the Erudite faction used their elite status and intellectual control to try to maintain that order. Divergents threatened this system because they could not fit into their faction and be controlled into a simpler lifestyle. While the factions seemingly were meant to maintain order, there was an unforeseen challenges of the Abnegation faction seeing beyond the rigid rules to provide help and support for the less fortunate and Erudite faction seeing public service as counter to their vision of control.

While the novel is part of a trilogy, this film wrapped up well to allow for the opportunity to continue telling this story. This was definitely better than last year’s attempt at adapting a young adult novel.

Dan’s Rating: 3.0/5

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