In a future where the world is divided into factions depending on your personality, Tris (Shailene Woodley) discovers she is different, she is a Divergent. Divergent's are hunted down and killed because the government fears they can't control them.
Divergent is the newest teen best selling novel to be turned into a movie franchise, similar to Twilight and The Hunger Games. Now I am not really the target audience for these types of films, although I did love the latest Hunger Games movie. I wasn't really excited for this movie and I had actually been holding it off for a couple of weeks but I finally gave in and went to see it. And....I surprisingly enjoyed it. Now I'm not saying this is a great movie, but it pleasantly beat my expectations and actually made for a fun movie.
The movie stars Shailene Woodley as Tris, who discovers she doesn't fit into any one faction because she has a defect where her mind works in several different ways and she carries many different virtues. I am a huge fan of Shailene Woodley after films like "The Spectacular Now" and "The Descendants" so I was looking forward to her leading her own franchise and she's great in this, she can definitely fit a leading role well. She made me care for the character of Tris, in her sad moments but also I was glad when her character succeeded. Which happened quite a lot during this movie, I was hoping they'd give some of the other characters some shining moments but Tris just seems to win at everything.
The rest of the cast do a fine job, Theo James (The Inbetweeners Movie) was good as the love interest for Tris, I really didn't feel like she needed a love interest, it felt rather forced but I didn't hate it. Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now) played the stereotypical dick in the movie, constantly shouting from the sidelines, which got irritating after a while and clearly Teller is more deserving of better characters. Jai Courtney (A Good Day To Die Hard) played a sort of bad guy and I thought he was pretty good in the movie, probably the best movie I've seen him in so far. And Kate Winslet (Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind) plays the main antagonist of the film, and I honestly think this role could have been played b anybody, Winslet is perhaps one of the best actresses working today and here she plays a very one note, generic villain who doesn't even get that much to do.
I have not read the Divergent books, I actually hadn't heard of them until I heard about the movie, so I can't judge on how faithful the movie is to the source material, you'll have to let me know in the comments. The movie certainly doesn't make me want to rush out and read the books either.
I actually thought some of the ideas in the movie were very similar to ones seen in other franchises. Especially "Harry Potter". The characters must sit in a chair near the beginning of the movie that will 'decide their fate' really, it finds out what kind of person they are then tells them what faction best suits them, I found that idea to just be very similar to the sorting hat out of Harry Potter but just more high tech. After I'd gotten over that similarity, we are told that it actually doesn't matter what your test results from the chair are, the characters can decide what faction they want to go in, so I just thought the test was evidently pointless since free will is still there when choosing a faction.
The beginning of the film starts off quite slow, when we are learning about this future and how it works but when Tris gets into her faction, she chooses 'Dauntless' which is the bravest faction and they are the law enforcement of the city, the movie picked up at that point and I really started to enjoy it. I'm a big sucker for training sequences, where we get to see a character hone their skills and improve themselves, I enjoy them and half of this movie is Tris training so Ii enjoyed that. When the big plot point is unveiled towards the end of the movie, I started to lose interest, I won't spoil it but I just thought it was very generic and about ten minutes from the end of the film, it got really cheesy. Some of the dialogue had me rolling my eyes. But the majority of the film is actually very enjoyable. I enjoyed some of the themes explored throughout the film, about not just belonging to one thing and actually having many different attributes. But near the end of the film they do the very conventional thing and use the theme of "love conquers all". Which also had me rolling my eyes.
The movie has a run time of 2 hours and 19 minutes and I thought it was going to be unbearable but the part of the film that made it bearable was Shailene Woodley as Tris, she was just really good in the role. I honestly didn't care for any of the other characters but the movie had a good lead so the run time didn't seem that long.
The action in the film wasn't anything special, your average quick cuts and shaky cam are used here but it didn't take me out of the movie. I thought the action was fun in parts. There's a scene in the movie where it's a capture the flag match and each team is assigned with guns that shoot darts that replicate the pain of being shot with an actual bullet but don't harm you, I thought that was pretty cool but the guns looked pretty ridiculous so it just made me laugh.
Like I said, the movie bears a lot of similarities to other young adult franchises but I bought this world and the director did a good job of establishing the world and this society, which was one of my main issues with the first Hunger Games film. Halfway through this movie I was invested in the world and I understood it.
Shailene Woodley was supposed to be playing Mary Jane in the new Spider-Man franchise but because of her involvement in this franchise, that doesn't seem to be happening anymore, which disappoints me as I thought she would make a great MJ. So it is official we are getting sequels to this movie and the last book is being split into two movies.....great. I just hope they do that well and there is enough source material to fill two movies.
So the movie does have its problems, it suffers from a generic plot, a rushed romance and some boring characters but Shailene Woodley was great, I liked her character, the action was fun and I had a good time watching this movie. I'm going to give Divergent a B-!
Director: Neil Burger.
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Jai Courtney, Miles Teller and Kate Winslet.