Beatrice Prior must choose between working in the soup kitchen all her life or jumping out of trains while cheering like a twelve-year-old. She chooses trains.
Sorry, let’s try this again:
Based on Veronica Roth’s bestselling YA novel of the same name, Divergent (2014) is set in a dystopia where the city’s sixteen-year-olds undergo a test to determine which “faction” of society they are suited for. Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) is told that her results show her as Divergent, meaning she has inclinations toward more than one faction. This, however, puts her in life in danger and she’s told to keep her Divergent-ness a secret.
As if that didn’t suck enough, Beatrice also has to choose between staying with her family in the boring, philanthropic Abnegation faction; or switching to a faction in which she might actually fit in. Beatrice chooses to move to Dauntless, the security and peacekeeping faction, and quickly takes a new name: Tris (she is brave, rational, and compassionate—not creative).
Little does Tris know, her move to Dauntless would throw her into a spiral of conspiracies and face-punching.
Awesome stuff about the film:
Though I read the novel and knew exactly what was going to happen, the film still managed to keep me somewhat interested throughout. Not super interested, mind you, but still interested enough to check my phone only three or four times.
Shailene Woodley does a good job being likable as Tris. The only issue I have with her performance is her delivery of a certain line as she pokes at some glass.
Theo James does a good job . . . being handsome. To be honest, there aren’t any standout (or horrible) performances that come to mind.
Better than the novel?
Notably, a particular dramatic scene involving a reluctant Tris and a rifle is much more compelling in the film than it was in the source material. A high five to Neil Burger and his team for that one.
Christina is too short
Zoe Kravitz as Christina may have been a miscast. It’s not that she’s a bad actor, but just that the character of Christina is supposed to be much taller than Tris. Here, Woodley is 5’8″ and Kravitz is 5’2″ (this is James Marsden as Cyclops and Hugh Jackman as Wolverine all over again). Yeah, it’s mostly a superficial detail and does little to affect the story. Then again, in the novel, one of Christina’s few advantages as a fighter is that she has reach.
Dauntless don’t know how to fight
Speaking of fighting, the combat in this movie isn’t entirely impressive. More than anything else, it’s very uncomfortable watching Tris get pummeled by people many times her size. I know it’s partially intended, but it just feels very wrong.
On top of that, the Dauntless fighting stance is a tad ludicrous. They don’t bother protecting their ribs (which is hand-to-hand 101). Also people whose lives revolve around fighting really shouldn’t have so many piercings. See The Punisher (2004) (where the dude with piercings gets them ripped off his face).
Still, it’s satisfying to see certain characters get their comeuppance.
Bit too many ups and downs
I don’t recall if the novel felt this way, but the movie did seem to have too many mini-climaxes. It kind of took the impact out of the ending.
Not bad. Watch it if you like any one of the following: the Divergent novels; Shailene Woodley; short people in roles meant for tall people.