Film Review: Divergent

Written by Laura Dengrove

divergent_poster_hq

This movie may be called Divergent, but it certainly is not diverse.

Surprising to no one, another teen post apocalyptic tale has been unleashed onto the masses, hoping to milk this cash cow once more. It’s shame a little movie called The Hunger Games came out before this movie, because had it not, Divergent movie may have had a fighting chance. By no means is this movie terrible, it just is an average film. Neither good nor bad, which in a critic’s world may be worse than a film being overwhelmingly terrible.

tris-divergent-poster

Divergent tells the tale of Beatrice (Shailene Woodly), who is forced to choose between the different factions set up in a world ravaged by destruction. This is done to keep the peace amongst the people, who must choose to be Abnegation (selfless), Amity (kind), Candor (honest), Erudite (intelligent) and Dauntless (brave). If you choose to not belong to one, or end up not fitting in the faction you chose, you become faction-less. This decision is made even harder by the fact that Beatrice is something called Divergent, belonging to all factions. With her Divergent status, she soon discovers her world is not as peaceful as it appears and there may be a hidden meaning and danger to everything she has ever known or loved.

There’s nothing is extraordinary about the film. It has a strong female lead, like The Hunger Games, a tale about how society has crumbled, like The Hunger Games, and how everyone has been divided up into separate sections, also like The Hunger Games. If only the film had better timing, like two years ago better timing.

Yet, there are good parts of the film as the work of the supporting cast (and not the leads surprisingly) as well as the cinematography really make the film more interesting. However, B-movie level CGI and lackluster writing really outweigh the positives here.

It’s a shame when potential with a film, such as good acting and nicely shot scenes, is diminished because of the fingerprints the writers have left on it.

Most screenplay writers either have a knack for adapting a book, or don’t. Reading a book is extremely fulfilling — having the chance to come up with situations in your head and imagine the scenarios the author has set up for you. Yet, when the wrong writer tries to put that magic on the big screen, something can go terribly wrong. This adaptation lacks the essential spark, the flare you got from reading the book. If this screenplay were a book it’d be very boring and extremely long, reminiscent of those tedious freshman year summer reading assignments.

MV5BMjM3MDIxMzY1NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzk5NjEzMDE@._V1_SX214_

This lack of flare and spark turns what could’ve been an excellent movie into a medicare, “same old, same old” YA movie that lacks any sort of staying power.

Another thing that diminishes the staying power of this movie is the CGI. You would think a movie like this would spend a couple more bucks to produce plausible and real looking visual effects (I mean it had an $85 million budget). This painfully obvious during the mirror scene has some truly dreadful special effects. You could practically see the green screen, or loss of green due to how little money they put into the effects here.

The performances of the movie, however, may be the one thing that saves Divergent. In a surprising turn of events, it is not the leads (Woodley and UK import Theo James, who plays Four), but the supporting actors who steal the show. In particular, Jai Courtney (Eric), Miles Teller (Peter), and Kate Winslet (Jeanine Matthews) who all play their parts with conviction, adding a flare to a movie that lacks it in most other areas. The impressiveness of Courtney and Teller’s roles alone will leave you with a contempt smile on your face, rooting for them even though they are some of the antagonists of the film.

Another thing that helps the movie move from terrible to average is its camera work. The shots in the beginning of the film, in particular, are the most impressive, Adding a nice back-story to the plot without having to explain anything to the audience. For a movie to accomplish a task such as this is reason enough to see the movie.

All in all Divergent is not terrible, just average and predictable. If you find yourself with nothing to do on a rainy night, see it. The performances and camera work in the film should be good enough reason to see it, and some witty dialogue does find its way to creep in there sporadically. While this movie claims to be “Divergent,” fitting in with all factions of the world, it may just have to settle for being normal.

Related Articles:

Book Review: Divergent (Lisa Pikaard)

Review: The Hunger Games – Catching Fire (Logan J. Fowler)

Review: The Hunger Games (Daniel Cohen)

Hello! My name is Laura Dengrove. I am currently a Junior at Rutgers University, double majoring in Journalism/Media Studies and Cinema Studies. I am a film critic and interviewer by choice, professional Linda Belcher impersonator by birth.