(Young Adult) novels have been fertile ground for films, with many
stand-alone hits as well as such huge franchises as Harry Potter,
Twilight and The Hunger Games.
Divergent is made with the express hope of being another one of these
tent-pole series. However, for every one of these which achieves
lift-off, there are many others which become huge misfires – such as I Am
Number Four, The Golden Compass and Cirque du Freak.
hard to say exactly what it is that makes some of these series take off.
In the long run, I suppose, it is just a question of how much you are
attracted to the universe the film portrays.
to be completely honest, I can't think of many more God-forsaken places than
the world of Divergent. I wouldn't ever, even for a second,
want to live there. In fact, spending over two hours there in the
theater was like doing hard time.
Divergent is yet another post-Apocalyptic world, where war has ravaged
the main city (which looks like Chicago) which is now mostly a ruin.
The world has turned into an odd mishmash of primitiveness and technology,
despite the fact that they still seem to have electricity and many modern
conveniences – trains (though for some reason, they never seem to stop, you
have to get on by hopping on like a hobo), guns, trucks, computers and
the human race seems to live like savages.
clever catch in the universe of Divergent is that all of the people
in the film's world are broken down into five castes which are defined by
their personal attributes: Erudite (intellectuals), Dauntless (strong and
brave), Abnegation (charitable and humble), Amity (peaceful) and Candor
group plays a part in the vast tapestry of this world, keeping it a
course, if sci-fi has taught us anything, it has shown us that there is no
such thing as a perfect utopia.
the smart group tries to take over for the empathetic group, tricking the
athletic one to be the muscle in their power play. (The other two
groups, particularly Amity, are pretty much forgotten in the film.)
one problem is that in a world where all the people are supposed to fall
into five categories, what happens to the people who don't fit in?
What about people who fit into all? (Even the film can't seem to
decide, calling some people who can't necessarily fit in to any of them
"uncategorizable," while others who have multiple types of traits are
brings us to Tris, well played by Shailene Woodley, who is best known for
playing George Clooney's older daughter in The Descendents. Now
she seems to be turning into a professional Y.A. film star, with this film,
the much better The Spectacular Now (based on the Y.A. novel by Tim
Tharp) and the upcoming The Fault In Our Stars (from yet
another terrific Y.A. best-seller by John Green).
is born into a Abnegation family, in fact her dad is one of the leaders of
the group. On the sixteenth birthday, all children are given an
aptitude test to suggest where they belong and then have to decide whether
to stay with their family or join another group. Tris never felt like
she fit in with Abnegation, but isn't sure where she should be. Even
the mental test in inconclusive.
However, unlike not being able to decide on your major, in the future it is
life-threatening to have multiple facets. Tris is warned by the tester
not to tell anyone, not even her parents. She can choose whichever
group she wants, but she can never let on that she is divergent.
ends up joining Dauntless, which turns out to be sort of like a futuristic
combination of The Lord of the Flies and Extreme Boot Camp.
Boys and girls live together, go to the bathroom together, and try to kill
each other. It's like hell on Earth, except for the dreamy trainer
named Four (Theo James).
is lot of talk of revolution, lots of mind-altering drugs, lots of
fighting and jumping and climbing, and a fierce criminal played by Kate Winslet, but in the end it all comes down to a pretty uninteresting
Who would have ever thought that surviving the Apocalypse could be so dull?
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All rights reserved. Posted: March 21, 2014.