Director: Neil Burger
Stars: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ashley Judd
Sentence Summary: A teen-focused movie about why not fitting in is the new way to be cool.
So last weekend I went to the theatre to see Divergent because I definitely have a soft spot for dystopian future movies and for strong female leads…. okay, and maybe for young adult literature too.
By the time it was over, I decided that I did enjoy this movie. It was far from perfect, but it was still an entertaining and reasonably exciting movie (think PG-13-rating exciting).
One of the weaker points of this movie was the non-threatening villain. Kate Winslet definitely made an effort to make the best of what she had to work with, but the script did not allow for a very ominous presence. Her lack of actually doing anything truly bad until the very end, paired with a couple of cheesy one-liners, resulted in a villain that was both non-threatening and underdeveloped. I feel that the story would have been greatly improved if they would have given this potentially interesting character a bit more background and room to grow. I also think that the potentially important character of Tris’s brother could have benefited from more development.
On that note, I thought that Tris proved to be a fairly strong main character. She was not overly original, but she used her characteristics of quiet bravery and deep empathy well enough to make her likeable. Her character’s most defining characteristic is the fact that she was an outsider who felt uncertain about herself and about what defined her. This is something that not only young viewers can relate to. Feeling out of place always sucks, so I always enjoy a movie with themes about the value of being different.
I also enjoyed the development of Four’s character. It’s all too often where the brooding bad boy remains just that, so I appreciated the fact that they took some time to flush out his character, even if he still ended up being a bit generic.
I am not going to compare this movie to The Hunger Games because I don’t think it is fair to the movie or to Woodley. However, I have been hearing a lot of people comparing Tris and Katniss, so I feel compelled to make a quick comment on that. While Woodley’s character may have ended up being less badass than Lawrence’s Katniss, it is important to remember that Woodley could only work within the confines of an already existent and familiar character. I would imagine that the novel versions of Tris and Katniss are quite different, so it is really not fair to expect Woodley to replicate Lawrence’s depiction of Katniss. That being said, they both provide strong female characters to root for in their different ways.
Back to Divergent, in terms of the actual storyline, it was nothing special — a war destroys the world, so radical measures are taken to ensure harmony, but guess what? The peace doesn’t last. Shocking. I’m not really complaining; ideas like this are reused for a reason. It is an important testament to human nature and to the fact that peace is not something that comes naturally to us. So even though this idea has been done, it still works here.
The main factor that really made this movie enjoyable for me was seeing Tris’s character develop into a strong role model. Considering the targeted demographic of young people, it is so important to see strong, independent characters. I also liked the overall theme that not fitting in has the potential to be exciting, threatening, and fun.
Overall, despite its average plot and similarity to The Hunger Games, Divergent is still able to be an enjoyable, interesting, and entertaining movie.
Verdict: See it. If you’re looking for something that doesn’t require much thinking, and you can handle a few cheesy teenage moments, then check out this movie.
Photos courtesy of Internet Movie Database (IMDb.com)