Movie Review: Divergent

Before even walking into the theater, I made the assumption that Divergent was just going to be another Hunger Games wannabe. Complete with a strong female lead, the struggle of an individual and her society, and a plethora of intense action scenes, the two movies share a large amount of parallel features. However, after seeing the movie, I was so floored that I realized Divergent undeniably deserves a pedestal of its own

The basic plot line follows Beatrice Prior, played by actress Shailene Woodley, as she navigates a society in post-apocalyptic Chicago. In the society, there are five different personality-determined “factions” into which the citizens are divided into: Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Erudite (the intelligent), Candor (the honest), and Dauntless (the brave). To determine which faction someone should be in, citizens undergo a series of tests when they are 16 whose results are supposed to tell them which faction they belong in. At a “choosing ceremony” a few days later, the teens have the opportunity to make their decision (which is almost always the same faction as the test had earlier determined).

Shailene Woodley plays Beatrice Prior in Divergent, based on the novel by Veronica Roth.

Shailene Woodley plays Beatrice Prior in Divergent, based on the novel by Veronica Roth.

However, when Beatrice goes through the test, her results are inconclusive and it is discovered that she is a “divergent.” The test administer warns her to keep this life-threatening secret from everyone, including her family, and to choose her parents faction, Abnegation, at the choosing ceremony. However, Beatrice chooses to fulfill a childhood dream of being a Dauntless and shocks the city with her decision. The rest of the movie follows her experience as she becomes a member of the Dauntless faction and as the society around her quickly begins to unravel. In the end, it will be her divergence that either saves or destroys the people around her.

Throughout the movie, Woodley performs with the perfect blend of adolescence and maturity. Although in the past she has been scoffed at for her role in The Secret Life of the American Teenager on ABC Family, Woodley brings her acting to a new level as she fills her part as Beatrice. In addition, according to her co-workers, Woodley maintains this maturity on and off the camera, making her a valuable asset to any cast

In addition to the action, there is also an underlying romance between Beatrice and another member of Dauntless called Four, played by actor Theo James. James’ masterful character development is seen as Four goes from being a reclusive, mysterious soldier, into a becoming leader who shares a deep relationship with Beatrice. The chemistry between Woodley and James, and the way that their two different acting styles combine, creates a very meaningful relationship that brings a contrasting dynamic to provide relief from the movie’s constant action.

Speaking of action, the movie is filled from beginning to end with thrilling conflict that leaves the entire audience on their edges of their seats. Though the special effects could certainly use some enhancement, the actors’ performances are what make these scenes believable.

In addition to Woodley and James, Kate Winslet plays a major role as the leader of the Erudite faction. Though she has a history of impressive acting, Winslet’s performance in Divergent is less than her best. While it seemed like she was attempting to be serious and intimidating, this somehow got lost in translation and came through as overly-dramatic and cliché. Despite Winslet’s lackluster performance, Woodley and James are able to pull her weight.

In the end, Divergent was an unexpected surprise that will be sure to give The Hunger Games a run for its money as the next few movies in the series are released. It has something for everyone, young and old, and will leave you eager for more.

— Monika Gabriele, School News Editor

Posted by on April 23, 2014. Filed under Arts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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