As much as I love reading, Veronica Roth's series didn't appeal to me. I skipped the books, but the film adaptation of Divergent has just about everything that I would expect from a teen- centric, dystopian-future drama.
1. Plucky Heroine.
2. Corny Love Story.
3. Kids saving the day.
Dan and I went to see it last night in Century City, after much debate over which movie to see. It wasn't necessarily our first choice, but the timing was good.
Dan hated it.
I thought that it was okay and fairly entertaining. As it met my expectations, I'm not too critical. Although the story tries to impart lofty messages regarding fighting for what's right and believing in who you are, this movie isn't too deep. Dystopian futures is a genre that I tend to like, so I was willing to go along for the ride.
Divergent is set in a futuristic Chicago, years after a catastrophic war. The city has been sealed to protect its citizens and the inhabitants are broken up into five groups based on their sensibilities. As soon as they reach adulthood, teenagers are tested to see which group they belong to and despite the pressure to stay within their test results and currently family units, they are free to choose any group, if they feel it is where they truly belong. It's this illusion of free-will and the pressure to pick the right group, that keeps people buying in to the system.
Beatrice (Shailene Woodley) lives with her family in Abnegation, the group dedicated to selflessness and serving others. When it comes time to be tested, she does not fall into a category and is declared Divergent. The administer of her test tells her to hide her results, as it will get her killed. Divergents do not like to follow the system and are deemed dangerous for making their own, unpredictable choices. At the choosing ceremony, Beatrice decides to go with the Dauntless, a group that are the protectors/warriors of the city.
There had to be a lot of information that was in the book, but cut from the film, as certain things were glossed over. The various groups are only explained in the most simplistic, stereotyped ways. Kate Winslet's character as an evil leader in the Erudite group is never fully developed. You know that she is the bad guy from the start, but her motives are only explained in the most basic way and there is no build to explain the root of her drive. She just seems extreme and hell-bent. No clue regarding what happened with the war or how long ago it occurred. A little more information and shorter fight sequences, would have made a tighter adaptation.
Shailene Woodley is what makes this film watchable. Just as Jennifer Lawrence made a perfect Katniss, Woodley is a good fit for Beatrice. She brings emotion and heart to the role. She's incredibly likable and I was rooting for her to make it. Although the romance storyline is extremely corny, Woodley and Theo James, who plays Beatrice's love interest, Four, have a ton of onscreen chemistry.
Visually, the movie is stunning, with a creative imagining of a futuristic Chicago and creepy dream sequences. There is plenty of action and some very brutal fight sequences.
Seeing this movie doesn't motivate me to read the books, although I'm sure that they're better than the film adaptation. I'm not sure if I would bother seeing the subsequent movies. Maybe if they came on television. There were clearly many fans of the books in the theatre with us and they seemed really pleased with the film.