Get used to the teenage book turned movie genre. It isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, I saw two trailers for best seller adaptations when I went to see this movie. I honestly don’t mind this trend. What I do mind, is making movies that are worth seeing. Some of these book to films series’ have lived up to the hype (Harry Potter, The Hunger Games). Some have crashed and burned (The Host, Eragon, The Golden Compass). And some managed to profit and earn a following, but are still universally heralded as terrible (Twilight, Percy Jackson). The question is: Which group does Divergent fall under?
First off, I’ll admit that based on reading the back of the book and watching the trailers, nothing about the plot seemed to intrigue me. Another post-apocalyptic, broken world with a teenager capable of saving it sounds too much like a Hunger Games rip-off. In Divergent, that post-war world is set in Chicago where, to maintain peace, society separates itself into five factions based on personality (Kind of like Harry Potter and the sorting hat… but I digress). There’s the brainy people who want to run the government, the selfless people who actually run the government, two other factions that don’t matter, and the brave warrior faction that make up the police (i.e. the cool kids). Those who don’t fit into any of these or who fit into all of them, are known as divergent and are a threat to the system. Why and how divergents are rare, is beyond me. Apparently in post-apocalyptic society most people only have one personality trait.
Anywho… the story centers on Beatrice (Shailene Woodley), daughter to a family in the selfless faction. After her test deems her divergent, “Trice” has no choice but to keep it a secret. She then goes with her gut and chooses the brave/police faction, a group of people who seemed hell bent on near death thrill seeking just because. Most of the movie involves her training in this rough and tumble world by Four (Theo James), a strong and noble member of the faction who she, of course, has a crush on. The overarching conflict in the movie involves the government power struggle between Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslett doing her best to be a passive aggressive bitch) and Beatrice’s noble and selfless politician parents (Ashley Judd and Tony Goldwyn).
I could spend an hour poking holes in the plot, but the same could be said for The Hunger Games series that I’m quite fond of. The bottom line is that I had a good time watching the movie and I can see why many teens have gravitated toward the books. I do not have the same sentiments for the Twilight “saga”. And as far as leading ladies go, Shailene Woodley isn’t half bad. She is no Jen Lawrence, but she is far from being a Kristen Stewart. She holds her own in the dramatic scenes and her transition from fish out of water to resident bad ass is believable enough. The only real faults of the film are its horrendous soundtrack, which seems straight out of an ABC Family drama, and its enigmatic and slightly abrupt ending. But considering how bad the movie could’ve been, and how bad I thought it would be, I can honestly say I was pleasantly surprised.
FINAL GRADE: B