Writer: Elaine EweWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"The Hunger Games"
Summit Entertainment and Lionsgate are on a roll: after bringing fans "The Twilight Saga" and "The Hunger Games" franchises, they are now distributing "Divergent", a film based on the novel of the same name by Veronica Roth. After watching so many young adult novels being adapted to film, "Divergent" helped the reviewer accept good actors with even better facial features can help boost a limp script. This film needs all the help it can get because screenwriters Evan Daugherty and Vanessa Taylor have managed to strip away the fascinating mythology of Veronica Roth's novel to bare bones.
In a dystopian version of Chicago, society is divided into five factions: Amity, Candor, Erudite, Dauntless and Abnegation. Beatrice "Tris" Prior (Shailene Woodley) is born and raised in Abnegation, but she does not feel selflessness as second nature. As she is 16, the time has come for her to take the aptitude test to help her choose which faction she belongs in, but unfortunately, Beatrice finds out that she is Divergent, which means that she does not fit into any one faction and there is an order out to hunt and kill all Divergents.
Right from the start, the film gets some details 'wrong', or should we say, different, from the book. There is no explanation about Abnegation's clothing choices, Beatrice feels conflicted about choosing between her family and the faction she wants to belong in for all of 5 minutes and the aptitude test and subsequent results feels less dire. Viewers who have not read the book will wonder what is a Divergent and why is it so bad to be a Divergent? Yes, we get that it is upsetting the balance in society, but it is also like being told drugs are bad; nobody actually believes them until someone dies from it.
In an attempt to distil all the details into a two-hour film, "Divergent" ends up losing its focus because it ends up focusing too much on the Dauntless. Much like "The Hunger Games", "Divergent" has the potential to raise questions about a society governed by their personality traits and its political implications, but fails to do so. Even with so many characters in the film, we end up only knowing a select few, and even so, we know them because we know the actors.
Thankfully, the film is not as bad as "The Twilight Saga" or "The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones" because of its two leads, Shailene Woodley and Theo James. The two do not try to distance themselves from the material and instead give it all the intensity they can muster. Both Woodley and James have amazing chemistry, made all the more amazing by James' eyebrows. It also helps that Tris is written to be a stronger character than say, Bella, not to mention that there is only one love interest this time around, which helps set "Divergent" apart from the other young adult films.
To be fair, "Divergent" is a film that fans of the book are likely to enjoy the film more because they have beforehand knowledge of dystopian Chicago and all the other details that have been left out. For casual viewers, "Divergent" tries to be the anti-"The Hunger Games", but doesn't really diverge from the dystopian young adult fare out there. It is worth noting though, while the film may not be as deep as we'd like, it is much more solid than say, "The Host", and the above average actors give us something worth caring about.Cinema Online, 22 March 2014