Ever since Twilight, Young-Adult movies adapted from Young-Adult novels have been springing up and capitalizing on the hopeless romantic audience (which is getting bigger, thanks to the unattainable boyfriend standards set by sparkling vampires), with an appeal that captures a wide age range – from the young teens who are still on their braces to the ladies who own more cats than they should. Twilight was definitely one of the worst, but every now and then, something like the Hunger Games comes up, which invests on social relevance and substance as much as on the cheesy love triangle. I’m still trying to pinpoint whether Divergent leans more to the Twilight side or the Hunger Games side but regardless, it would seem that the movie has already created a massive following.
In a post-apocalyptic Chicago, citizens have been divided into five factions to create peace and order: Abnegation (the “selfless” faction dedicated to charity and entrusted with governance), Amity (the peace-loving hippies…I mean farmers), Candor (the truthful faction in charge of the judiciary…read: “tactless” and “judgemental”), Erudite (the smarty pants), and the Dauntless (the brave, in charge of security. Basically these are the cool guys). At the age of 16, everyone goes through an aptitude test to help them determine which faction they belong to. Beatrice “Tris” Prior learns that she is a Divergent – someone who possesses the qualities of more than one faction. This puts her life in danger since Divergents are considered threats to the peace and order because of their individuality and tendency to think differently. Because of this, Tris tries to blend in with Dauntless to hide being a Divergent, but after learning about the sinister plot of one of the factions, she realizes that coming out may be the only way for her to save everyone.
Divergent reminded me so much of Harry Potter and the Hunger Games. The Choosing Ceremony where the initiates get to choose which faction they want to belong to was reminiscent of the Sorting Ceremony in Harry Potter with the Sorting Hat. And come to think of it, the factions are actually similar to the traits of the different Hogwarts Houses. Divergent also has a little bit of Hunger Games in it – we have a defiant leading lady who manages to pull-off a rebellion against the dominant system. Looks like Divergent is not scoring so well in the Originality Meter.
In spite of the ideas seemingly taken from other books, Divergent was still able to become interesting on its own – thanks to the lead cast who were able to humanize the characters and make them relatable. Shailene Woodley did well in her portrayal of Tris, making her look vulnerable but resilient at the same time. The good thing about Tris’ character is that her development was believable, starting off by sucking in every Dauntless thing she does (because hey, most of us would probably do), and developing her innate Divergent skills as time goes by. Her chemistry with Theo James (Four, whose real name is Tobias Eaton) just made things better. You can just feel the sexual tension between the two, eliciting more than a few girly giggles in the cinema especially when Theo takes off his shirt.. Let’s just hope that he’s not the type who sparkles.
I liked the idea of independence and having your own self-identity. Of conformity in favour of individuality. Divergent invests on this premise and it was good since it will have some sort of social relevance however, as the movie progressed, it seemed to veer away from this concept and lean more towards being a sappy love story set in a “you and me against the world” backdrop. You can tell that it was slowly transforming into a cheesy YA flick. I wasn’t very happy about this but what can we do? There’s a big audience out there craving for some dreamy romance.
Divergent is decent enough to make you want to stay in your seats and get excited about what’s going to happen next. In spite of some small flaws and inconsistencies, it still had the makings of a blockbuster franchise. I’m sure more than a few people out there have already tried some Divergent Faction Tests to see which faction they belong to (myself included). Divergent was okay, but I guess we can hope for better from its sequel – Insurgent.
|I was so sure this guy was Macklemore.|
Shailene Woodley as Beatrice “Tris” Prior
Theo James as Tobias “Four” Eaton
Ansel Elgort as Caleb Prior
Ray Stevenson as Marcus Eaton
Kate Winslet as Jeanine Matthews
Zoë Kravitz as Christina
Maggie Q as Tori
Mekhi Phifer as Max
Jai Courtney as Eric
Miles Teller as Peter
Ben Lamb as Edward
Ben Lloyd-Hughes as Will
Christian Madsen as Al
Tony Goldwyn as Andrew Prior
Ashley Judd as Natalie Prior
Amy Newbold as Molly Atwood
Justine Wachsberger as Lauren
Directed by Neil Burger
Credits to the images and videos used in this post go to “Divergent” and/or to their respective owners. I do not own these materials. No copyright infringement intended.