Divergent (2014)

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: SF/Action/Adventure
Land : USA

Shailene Woodley : Tris
Theo James : Four
Ashley Judd : Natalie
Ray Stevenson : Marcus

Director : Neil Burger


Set in a futuristic dystopia where society is divided into five factions that each represent a different virtue, teenagers have to decide if they want to stay in their faction or switch to another - for the rest of their lives. Tris Prior makes a choice that surprises everyone. Then Tris and her fellow faction-members have to live through a highly competitive initiation process to live out the choice they have made. They must undergo extreme physical and intense psychological tests, that transform them all. But Tris has a secret that she is Divergent, which means she doesn't fit into any one group. If anyone knew, it would mean a certain death. As she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, this secret might help her save the people she loves... or it might destroy her.
My opinion

˝The future belongs to those who know where they belong.˝

˝Divergent¨. A movie everyone was eagerly looking forward to. A movie a lot of fuss was made about. A movie that was doomed to be a mega-success in the cinemas as ˝Guardians of the Galaxy˝.  The only difference with the latter is that the film from Marvel really looks original and refreshing and also has an unique atmosphere. ˝Divergent ˝ is yet another adaptation of a youth book, written by the twenty-five-year-old Veronica Roth, of which one hopes it will make a heap of money just like ˝Twilight˝ and ˝The Hunger Games˝ did. And afterwards the merchandising could exploit the youthful fans for years. Admittedly, I had a good feeling about this movie and was wondering how this film would turn out. That good feeling melted away like snow in the sun after roughly 45 minutes. I came to the conclusion that it was just another teen movie, with the same stale storylines and banal trivialities that would make an impression on a young naive public. In other words, again a fragile individual that eventually grows into a heroine and, surprisingly, saves society from being ruined. Sigh. That´s indeed for once quite different and terribly innovative.

We are in an indeterminate distant future in a post-apocalyptic Chicago shielded of by a huge metal wall. A half-ruined city that survived an unspecified war. Society is divided into several factions that are distinguished by their color, costumes, but mostly by their traits and personality. There are five groups: Abnegation (not selfish), Amity (peaceful), Candor (honest), Dauntless (brave), and Erudite (intelligent). At age 16 everyone should undergo a test after which they either blindly follow the outcome (they usually end up in the same faction their parents are in) or go against this outcome and choose another faction (and they lose contact with their relatives). Beatrice Prior, the designated heroine, comes to hear after her test that she doesn't belong to any specific factions. In fact she could join any of them and so she deviates a bit of the rest. She is being marked as ˝Divergent¨ . And apparently nobody should know that. She feels from the outset as a parasite. During the ceremony, she opts for Dauntless, which she worships since her childhood.

As I mentioned earlier, the first 45 minutes were fascinating. An explanation about the current situation with magnificent images of the ruins of Chicago. I was just wondering why they didn't renovate the existing buildings, since they could construct those ultra modern glass and iron buildings. Or were these half-streaked tower blocks the shelter for those who didn't belong to any class? Whatever. The description of the various factions was pictured nicely. It even went into a socio-political direction at one moment. But soon I couldn't prevent seeing comparison points with the other movies of youth books.

However, I fear to say everything that´s been said before and I don´t think I will reveal any new original angles. Indeed, the system of factions reasonable compares to that in ˝The Hunger Games˝. Katniss became a symbol of liberation and hope in ˝The Hunger Games˝. I suppose that role will also be played by Beatrice (I could be hopelessly wrong since I've never read the books). The ceremony can be compared with that from Harry Potter. The only thing they do not need to do is to put that old talking hat on their head. Just as Melanie, a rebellious teenager, in ˝The Host˝, Beatrice gets hopelessly entangled in a puppy love affair, as expected. Nevertheless there is one positive point. It´s by far better than ˝Beautiful Creatures˝ and way better than ˝The Mortar Instruments˝. And if you want to look at a futuristic film, where there is a distinction between certain classes and also has a struggle for freedom, then I suggest you watch ˝Snowpiercer˝. But then however, this movie lacks a bit of real romance and the aggressive and violent level is a bit higher. So it´s not for the faint romantic souls.

The initial phase where Tris is heading out with the jeering mob of Dauntless, climbing and balancing on bridges while wandering through town and jumping on hurtling trains and afterwards jumping back on flat roofs (yes just getting on and off a train at a platform is not challenging for these daredevils) is still enjoyable. Even the tests that they have to endure and the mutual competition that arises is still acceptable. But in the end I thought it was a barbaric and cruel faction that throw out newbies, who ultimately have chosen for them, because they didn't pass the tests. The moment a slight chemistry develops between Four and Tris, it goes downhill for me and it becomes a little too predictable. The ˝Beverly Hills 90210˝ level was reached without any problem with the glitzy, handsome protagonists and feel-good moments. It won´t be long and the merchandising machine will be on track and we are bombarded with all sorts of trinkets and gadgets. The next years will once again be filled with Barbie-like stuff, TV programs, PC Games and fashion statements that are related to ˝Divergent¨.

Shailene Woodley is perfect for this role and exudes a charisma and fragility. Her ​​future as a teen idol is guaranteed. She will travel the trajectory as a rising star just like Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Watson did before her. We´ll just wait and see if her future performances will be appreciated by moviegoers. Theo James has his looks and that will also guarantee a high melting level for all the the teenage girls looking at him and who will be floating home afterwards. His toughness doesn´t last long and before you know it he protects Tris as a real mother hen and winds up on the soggy and corny romantic path. Of all the companions of Tris the only one that I can remember is the role of Miles Teller as the terrible enervating Peter. When I look at his performance in ˝The Awkward Moment˝ I´m sure that the irritating quality is a personal trait. Kate Winslet managed again to come across as haughty and disdainful. For the rest it wasn't really an impressive role. 

Ultimately ˝Divergent˝ is an adolescent story with a disappointing predictable plot. I suppose the sequel, like with ˝The Hunger Games˝, will be a middle film which will contribute even less. So I'm not going to bother to watch it. Despite the sometimes extremely professional elaborate action scenes, it all feels as fake as the applied tattoos.

My rating 4/10
Links : IMDB

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