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Review: Divergent

Divergent
03.20.2014by:
5 10

PLOT: In a futuristic, and mostly decimated Chicago (which seems to be the only city left on the planet), the remnants of mankind have been partitioned into five factions. When a child comes of age, they take a test which matches them to a faction, although they have the right to make their own choice in a choosing ceremony. When Beatrice (Shailene Woodley) takes her test, she’s classified as “Divergent” with characteristics from each group, which is feared by the Erudite faction – as they’re too difficult to control. With her true nature hidden by a sympathetic administrator (Maggie Q), Beatrice chooses to join the Dauntless faction, the city’s warrior class, where her trainer is the mysterious Four (Theo James) who immediately senses her true nature and potential.

REVIEW: DIVERGENT is the latest young adult adaptation from Lionsgate. While pretty much all of the studios have tried – and failed – to launch YA franchises in the wake of TWILIGHT, Lionsgate managed to score big bucks with the blockbuster HUNGER GAMES series, and is clearly hoping to hit pay dirt once again with this, an adaptation of the popular series by Veronica Roth. DIVERGENT is close enough to HUNGER GAMES that it almost feels like a clone. Shailene Woodley has definitely been cast in the Jennifer Lawrence model, with both having proved themselves capable of carrying serious indie dramas before being turned loose on a franchise.

While Katniss seemed like a part tailor-made for Lawrence, Woodley is less ideal as Beatrice, who renames herself Triss once she joins Dauntless. While there’s no doubt Woodley is a good actress (which she’s proven time and time again in movies like THE SPECTACULAR NOW and THE DESCENDANTS), she doesn’t make as dynamic an action heroine as Lawrence. In the early scenes – where she struggles with her violent Dauntless training – she’s fine, but when the movie take an action heavy, surprisingly violent turn in the last act, she seems a little too fragile.

Another issue is her chemistry with co-star Theo James. While he’s excellent as the brooding Four (far superior to any of the young male actors in TWILIGHT or even HUNGER GAMES), there’s very little chemistry between him and Woodley. She looks more like his kid sister than a love interest. Although there may not be a huge difference in their actual ages, Woodley looks much younger than him, and it’s a bit off-putting. Still, while she seems somewhat miscast, Woodley puts so much effort into the part that she never comes off badly. It just feels like a casting decision that didn’t quite pan out, although if this turns into a franchise it’s possible she’ll grow into the part.

Like HUNGER GAMES, tons of marquee adult actors pop up in the cast, with Kate Winslet as the marginal baddie, an elitist “Erudite” with designs on becoming the society’s new ruler. Winslet plays a good bureaucrat, although her screen time is fleeting, and as a result she doesn’t make a huge impression. Ashley Judd is more effective as Triss’ mother, who (naturally) has a secret which comes into play in the third act. A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD co-star Jai Courtney plays a brutal trainer with Dauntless, but he doesn’t come off as menacing as he should, with tattoos and earrings that make him look Emo rather than threatening. Meanwhile, Woodley’s SPECTACULAR NOW co-star Miles Teller is utterly wasted in a smallish part as a scheming inductee into Dauntless, although he at least manages to convey some real menace, which is more than can be said for any of the other villains.

Like most first installments in wannabe sagas, DIVERGENT tries to cover a lot of ground, with the film running close to 140 minutes. Given how much time is spent on exposition and training, it feels like a very long wait before any of the action or intrigue begins, and once the movie finally does kick into high-gear, everything is dealt with so quickly that it feels anti-climactic. This feels like a surprisingly straight-forward film for director Neil Burger, who with THE ILLUSIONIST and LIMITLESS showed some real style behind the camera. Any stylistic flair he brought to those films is absent here. The constant pop-rock soundtrack also tends to wear on the viewer, with many of the romantic ballads being tough to distinguish from each other. However, the actual score by 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE’s Junkie XL is actually quite good.

Clearly, DIVERGENT is a film that’s targeted at devoted readers of the novel, and they very-well may think it’s an excellent adaptation. As a film, it’s never too tough a slog (which is more than can be said for any of the TWILIGHT’s) but it doesn’t measure up to THE HUNGER GAMES, although there are enough good things about the first film that the series could improve as it goes on. Until then, DIVERGENT is probably best appreciated by tweens and teens.

Source: JoBlo.com

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12:33PM on 03/20/2014
Besides the pathetic excuse for "fighting" I find myself annoyed by the idea that a psudo Myers Briggs basically defines a person's placement/position for all their life. That kind of society can't be sustainable. What if you had a shitty day and didn't have any fucks to give that day but you really can't lead for shit? What if you're are a born alpha but that particular day you stumble on your ass so now you're stuck in construction for the rest of your life?
Besides the pathetic excuse for "fighting" I find myself annoyed by the idea that a psudo Myers Briggs basically defines a person's placement/position for all their life. That kind of society can't be sustainable. What if you had a shitty day and didn't have any fucks to give that day but you really can't lead for shit? What if you're are a born alpha but that particular day you stumble on your ass so now you're stuck in construction for the rest of your life?
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4:56AM on 03/21/2014
That's how it is in REAL life... one bad day can ruin many opportunities for you... So I'm not sure what the fuck your comment means, other than pointing out that you feel you can never have a bad day in real life. Enjoy, because that will never happen.

You are going to a job interview. The fucker in front of you slams on the brakes. You've spilled coffee all over your pants. You're pissed off at that guy and the fact you have fucked up your pants before an interview. You get into the
That's how it is in REAL life... one bad day can ruin many opportunities for you... So I'm not sure what the fuck your comment means, other than pointing out that you feel you can never have a bad day in real life. Enjoy, because that will never happen.

You are going to a job interview. The fucker in front of you slams on the brakes. You've spilled coffee all over your pants. You're pissed off at that guy and the fact you have fucked up your pants before an interview. You get into the interview and the asshole in the chair makes a snarky comment about you pissing yourself. You had a bad day and tell him to go fuck himself. You think you got the job?

Come on man, grow up
9:52AM on 03/20/2014

Totally not for everyone.

I understand this is a twilight wanna be "squish" flick and it isn't my cup of tea. But for the kids who this movie WAS made for, they will be bored to tears and totally lost because of how bad the script and acting are. I can't see this being a box office success. It will be another YA flop.
I understand this is a twilight wanna be "squish" flick and it isn't my cup of tea. But for the kids who this movie WAS made for, they will be bored to tears and totally lost because of how bad the script and acting are. I can't see this being a box office success. It will be another YA flop.
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+1
9:35AM on 03/20/2014

Of all the YA distopian future novel-to-films...

this one looks by far the worst. That Maze Runner trailer that came out the other day looks aout 50x more interesting than this.
this one looks by far the worst. That Maze Runner trailer that came out the other day looks aout 50x more interesting than this.
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8:30AM on 03/20/2014
Winslet and Judd should have passed on this...Hollywood should have done the same.
Winslet and Judd should have passed on this...Hollywood should have done the same.
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5:00AM on 03/20/2014
At least I hope its better than The Mortal Instrument City of Bones.
At least I hope its better than The Mortal Instrument City of Bones.
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5:49AM on 03/20/2014
I think it is. It's not as preposterously silly.
I think it is. It's not as preposterously silly.
9:23AM on 03/20/2014
God that movie was trash.
God that movie was trash.
10:28AM on 03/20/2014
It was really awful as storytelling really got lost along the way.
It was really awful as storytelling really got lost along the way.
2:19AM on 03/20/2014
I think it's not as bad as people have been saying it is. World-building sci fi is always a tough nut to crack and yes, Divergent's world is built upon an interesting premise, but it isn't articulated convincingly or cleverly enough. That said, the whole Gattaca, THX 11380-esque futuristic dystopia in which everyone's roles are pre-defined is a fertile storytelling landscape and I was invested in Tris' journey and what would become of her. There is a lot of character development going on and
I think it's not as bad as people have been saying it is. World-building sci fi is always a tough nut to crack and yes, Divergent's world is built upon an interesting premise, but it isn't articulated convincingly or cleverly enough. That said, the whole Gattaca, THX 11380-esque futuristic dystopia in which everyone's roles are pre-defined is a fertile storytelling landscape and I was invested in Tris' journey and what would become of her. There is a lot of character development going on and the friendship between Shailene Woodley and Zoe Kravitz did anchor it emotionally. The zipline sequence was also executed quite well. It's just very long and it doesn't quite have the urgency and grandiosity of the Hunger Games.
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4:03AM on 03/20/2014
Just read the book.
Just read the book.
2:10AM on 03/20/2014
Woodley is an interesting case in potential stardom. People seem to love her in everything she does, but every single role I've seen her in, she's come off the exact same. Like, granted, actors have their genre niches where they play very similar 1 or 2-dimensional characters, but her lack of alteration in approach to every single role I've seen her in borders on the satirical, given the high praise for her performances. So I'm not surprised that with a franchise on the line, people are finally
Woodley is an interesting case in potential stardom. People seem to love her in everything she does, but every single role I've seen her in, she's come off the exact same. Like, granted, actors have their genre niches where they play very similar 1 or 2-dimensional characters, but her lack of alteration in approach to every single role I've seen her in borders on the satirical, given the high praise for her performances. So I'm not surprised that with a franchise on the line, people are finally taking a more honest look at Woodley's talents (or lack thereof)
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6:02AM on 03/20/2014
that's pretty much exactly how I feel about Jennifer Lawrence
that's pretty much exactly how I feel about Jennifer Lawrence
11:00AM on 03/20/2014
Completely agree, both Woodley and Lawrence are overrated. They seem to always play wooden characters.
Completely agree, both Woodley and Lawrence are overrated. They seem to always play wooden characters.
2:04AM on 03/20/2014

I shake my fkin head everytime I see the trailer and

They tell her shell be put through the toughest training a human can endure and all you see them doing is some lame ass judo and throwing knives. Toughest training ever? Guess they never heard of the Navy Seals let alone my warm up at the gym.
They tell her shell be put through the toughest training a human can endure and all you see them doing is some lame ass judo and throwing knives. Toughest training ever? Guess they never heard of the Navy Seals let alone my warm up at the gym.
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11:55AM on 03/20/2014
I came here to say just this. Hell, they don't even look sweaty. Lame.
I came here to say just this. Hell, they don't even look sweaty. Lame.
1:53AM on 03/20/2014
Saw this coming miles away with those lackluster trailers....
Saw this coming miles away with those lackluster trailers....
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