Greetings and welcome to the Winterton Blog.
This is my review of the new movie Divergent, Directed by Neil Burger and based on the book of the same name by Veronica Roth.
Top Billed Cast: Shailene Woodley as Tris, Theo James as Four, Kate Winslet as Jeanine.
Divergent was a simple story, one of identity, individuality and non-conformity. The Main character Beatrice “Tris” Pryor as played by Shailene Woodley must struggle with being Divergent- a person who possesses the features of a number of the factions that this dystopian version of Chicago has been arranged into and thus cannot be controlled by the government- as well as fighting to overturn the system and bring equity to the city. Along with love interest Four, played by Theo James, she has firstly hide among the Dauntless faction, the fighters and then fight against the forces of the Erudite faction, the cold, calculating intellectuals as they seek to overthrow the current Abnegation, the warmhearted, selfless faction who currently rule.
The story was passable, not bad but hardly groundbreaking. As a student of writing and an amateur screenwriter and novelist myself, I can appreciate the simple grace of the story, especially considering it’s teen audience, however it lacks the depth and complexity of both world and character development to really set it apart from the crowd of Hunger Games wannabes.
Speaking of the Hunger Games, you’d be mad if you didn’t realize how heavily Divergent leans upon the Suzanne Collins crutch, with the themes of rebellion against totalitarian government and the restructuring of a warped, dystopian world, trying to build a better version of humanity out of the ashes of the last version’s mistakes. Seriously, I’m starting to get a little bit fed up of these rather unimaginative post-apocalyptic america stories.
The world is not developed much, treading a thin line between pulp fiction and actual attempts at narrative world-building. As this may however stem from the medium as a movie rather than the books, where the world may be developed more in depth. The characters are likable and make a good strong impression. Tris and Four are far enough from Katniss and Peta to be strong lead roles in their own right and both develop organically through the movie’s progression. When it comes to good relationship portrayal, teen movies don’t have the best reputation, but Divergent does it surprisingly well. Tris and Four rely on each other not just romantically but also tactically and mentally, they have each other’s backs and their relationship emphasizes their support of each other rather than their passion, an admirable approach.
It’s also worth mentioning Kate Winslet’s performance as Jeanie, the ruthless leader of Erudite. Her acting is flawless as the cold determined villan. Kate delivers the role with such beauty that what might be just a 2D character in the hands of anyone else is given humanity and empathy. The audience can get inside her head for a moment and see where she’s coming from. That said, we still cheer and laugh when she is defeated and gets her comeuppance.
Although my reviews do focus mainly on a movie’s story and script I’d also just like to mention a few other areas such as visual effects, soundtrack and cinematography.
Visual Effects: Divergent seems to be largely lacking in any great visual effects, the Dystopian scenery that is displayed being very generic. That said however, the sparse and ruined visuals that are indeed present are a fantastic backdrop to the story, adding that little bit of colour when needed. Although not full of sweeping vistas still haunting and well presented.
Soundtrack: Once again, Hanz Zimmer delivers with great gusto. The beautiful classical score of divergent is punctuated by the slightest undertones of tribal music and electronic music, wonderfully reflecting the run-down, but still oddly technological world of Divergent. The score is accompanied by many contemporary musical pieces that add great texture to the movie.
Cinematography: Although not outstanding, Divergent’s cinematography is definitely worth a mention. The person shots are played very well as are the combat scenes. The deaths seem a little glazed over and some of the shots seem a little to close up for my liking, but that’s just a personal opinion.
All in All a good movie, although far from being the best it could be.
I’ll give the books a read and see how they fare.
3 stars from 5.