It takes a big movie, in some way or another, i.e. critical acclaim, a big comedy, an epic, etc, to get me to pay to see a movie in the theaters. Blame this on huge and constantly-raising ticket prices, Netflix, Popcorn Time, and other streaming services.
I skipped Divergent when it was in theaters. I hadn’t heard anyone say anything about it outside of my magazines and I figured it was another young adult novel-turned movie that was good but not great (or even worse, like City of Bones and The Host). But after watching the movie on my home theater this past weekend, I can say that this was a very, very good film. It would have been worth the ticket price for sure.
What made me such a big fan of the film? Two words for you – Shailene Woodley. I saw her in The Descendents and thought she was good but not outstanding like most other people did. But I drink the Shailene Kool-aid for sure now after seeing her excellent performance as Tris Prior.
The story of Divergent is a thought-provoking and very interesting one. Set in another futuristic dystopian society, much like The Hunger Games, but in this one, citizens are separated into five different factions based on their main personality trait. People are either Kind, Selfless, Brave, Smart, or Honest, and live their entire lives based on the principles associated with that trait. You have to choose one to dedicate your entire life too. If you change your mind or don’t fit in somehow, you end up as one of the “Faction-less” – basically a homeless vagabond.
What makes this world even creepier? The government can easily look inside your head with the help of a little injected serum. Teenagers are given tests in which proctors can see their inner visions in order to be assigned to a faction. Despite what the test results are and what faction you grew up in, each teen is allowed to choose. But choosing is difficult for Tris, because she is what they call “Divergert.” Her test results showed that she is best suited for a number of factions, not just one, and different factions than the one she grew up in (Abnegation – the “Selfless”).
The movie kicks into high gear about Tris chooses to live in Dauntless (the Brave). Her new cohabitants are wild thrill-seekers and love to jump on and off moving trains, climb and act all-around fearless. The Dauntless are also the police. There are a lot of exciting action-filled moments, involving climbing, jumping, and armed warfare.
Shailene portrays Tris perfectly. Tris’ face looks young and innocent but she grows immensely as a young woman after joining Dauntless. She is a likable heroine that the actress makes easy to root for. Tris’ romantic lead is also played to a tee by Theo James, who plays Tris’s brooding and intense teacher, Four. Even though they don’t instantly have romantic chemistry (I think due to Shailene looking so much younger), once their relationship does elevate, it’s a believable and sexy romance.
The movie also features a great bunch of supporting players. Kate Winslet is the Big Baddy (a fun change for her!), Zoe Kravitz is Tris’s closest friend, and Tris’s parents are played nicely by Scandal’s Tony Goldwyn and Ashley Judd (where have you been??).
I wish I could go back and see Divergent in the movie theaters. That was my goof. But I will definitely be seeing Insurgent, the sequel and second book in the trilogy of novels, on the big screen.