Director Neil Burger’s recent movie Divergent (2014) is the first installment of the latest new franchise based on Veronica Roth’s series of young adult novels.
This movie takes place in a dystopian world where people are separated into factions based on virtues. When protagonist Tris Prior (played by Shailene Woodley) finds out she is Divergent (fits into more than one faction), she must come to terms with her rare gift as well as fight against antagonist Jeanine’s (played by Kate Winslet) plan to rid the world of Divergence.
My initial thoughts of this movie are mixed. This is nothing I haven’t already seen but has some features I liked. When I say nothing I’ve not already seen, I mean this really echoes other popular franchises like The Hunger Games, Twilight and overall felt quite samey.
A very interesting world is established early on in this story, and there is some good visual effects to really highlight this world. I easily bought into this and was intrigued.
Protagonist Tris is established early on as a free thinker and displays examples of courage and selflessness. These traits, however, are “bad” to have in this world and are discouraged.
As Tris has reached a certain age, she takes a test that determines which faction would suit her best – she has initially been born into the Abnegation faction. When the results are inconclusive, she is advised to tell nobody and lie that she couldn’t finish the test. Afterwards, she chooses her faction Dauntless and her brother Caleb (played by Ansel Elgort) chooses Erudite – this resulting in abandoning their parent’s faction. This is when our story really begins.
Tris has strong morals, and supportive parents (played by Tony Goldwyn and Ashley Judd). Throughout the movie, she progresses and becomes a warrior and leader. As a result, at the bare bones this is ultimately a coming of age story.
With the help of her Divergent love interest and one of the faction’s trainers Four (played by Theo James), she develops and overcomes whatever obstacles she is faced with – this including Jeanine’s attempts to rid the world of people similar to Tris.
Although I liked the necessary characters I should have in this story and rooted for them, I felt like there were no real surprises or anything that really kept me engaged. I knew that Tris’s fighting abilities would improve, and that the handsome Four would display some tough love but ultimately help her, and I could foresee the necessary characters dying. Therefore, there was that element of predictability throughout.
The most enjoyable parts of the movie is Tris’s training and initiation, as we see her improve and fit into her chosen faction. There are also some strong themes in this film revolving around conformity, identity and morality. The notion of following in your parents footsteps is also a strong characteristic.
Something else I liked was the talented cast involved in this movie, with Oscar winning Kate Winslet being the biggest name. As well as her, Ashley Judd and Tony Goldwyn were impressive as Tris’s parents. Up and coming Jai Courtney plays Eric, one of the Dauntless leaders and looks to have a promising career ahead of him. With this film as well as the recent Die Hard movie, he is doing quite well. The same can be said about the other young cast members such as Shailene Woodley and Theo James.
To summarise, I would recommend this film if you want something fun. This movie will not change your life, and won’t have you coming out of the cinema going “wow that was great.” However, if you want an average movie with a fairly decent cast, then this is the film for you.
By Robert Spence