Hello, I’m unicorn. Yes, I know I said I’d bring back Ninja Turtles month, but last night I saw Divergent, and I just had to talk about it.
Well, this isn’t the first time you lied to your readers.
Yeah, yeah. I know, but it isn’t May yet, so I don’t care. Anyway, let’s talk about Divergent. I went into this not completely excited, but with an open mind. My opinion? I think Shredder can summarize it best:
Wow, that’s kinda cold.
Okay, I’ll explain myself in a minute, but first, the plot. In the future, after a mysterious war, the city of Chicago has been divided in into five houses–I mean, factions–based on personality. These factions are Griffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin–er, I mean, Dauntless for courage, Erudite for intelligence, Candor for honesty, Abnegation for selflessness, and Amity for peaceful. Or as I like to call them: the adrenaline junkies, the nerds, the lawyers, the Amish, and the hippies. The heroine, Beatrice Prior, called Tris, goes to take the personality test to see which faction she belongs in, but the results are inconclusive. She’s divergent, which threatens the system because she can’t be controlled by the government. She chooses the adrenaline junkies anyway, and must go through training while the nerds plan to take the city from the Amish by using the mind controlled adrenaline junkies. Along the way, she meets friends, is betrayed, and suffers an impressive trauma conga line. I’ve never read the book, so I’ll just review the movie on its own merits.
The Good: The acting was great, and the main heroine was likable. I was glad that she wasn’t perfect at everything from the start and had to work for a position in the adrenaline junkie faction. The actress made Tris interesting enough to carry a film. Her sidekicks were also fun. I really liked the lawyer named Christine and the nerd named Will. They both got some pretty good lines in. Come to think of it, a lot of the one liners were pretty good, especially the running gag about Tris’s willingness to shoot people. I just wish there was more snarky humor like that, but when the little levity appeared, it really helped. The dream-like scenes where we went into her mind and saw her greatest fears were really interesting, and I liked the way the city and factions looked. I loved the climax, with her taking the lead in the infiltration of the enemy base. Yay agency!
The Bad: I’m not going to harp on the world, because, according to my little sister, it does get explained. Grant it, the reason is also pretty silly, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. Besides, there are bigger fish to fry. One of the big issues is the interchangeable characters. For example, one of Tris’s best friends tries to kill her and when he fails, he kills himself, which is tragic, but I didn’t even know his name. My sister had to explain why he suddenly betrayed her. Another example would be Mathias, the love interest’s father. They constantly talked about him and the rumors that he is abusive, with all of the other Amish saying that Mathias would never abuse his son, but I had no idea who they were talking about until the third act. This is the same for practically every other side character. You get the feeling that her mom was going to be an important character and is really close to Tris, but they have maybe ten minutes of screen time put together before she dies. There are just so many characters and none of them are well developed. And don’t even get me started with the implications made by vilifying the nerds. In the eyes of the narrative: scientist=elitist=bad. Let’s talk about the conflict for a second. For the first two thirds of the movie, everything is focused on trying to get into the adrenalin junkies. Then, practically out of nowhere SURPRISE REVOLUTION!!!!! The story randomly goes from character driven with hints at nefarious plots to overthrow the government to trying to overthrow the overthrowing of the government in five minutes. Even though I liked the climax, it still was completely out of nowhere. Now, let’s talk about the biggest problem, the second act. It’s a whole lot of nothing. She becomes an adrenaline junkie initiate, does poorly, slowly gets better, and training, training, and more training. The movie was about two and a half hours, but it felt so much longer because of how repetitive it was. When the finally climax came, it was too little, too late, because I was just waiting for the movie to end.
Overall, my whole feeling on the film is meh. It’s not a bad movie per se, but I definitely don’t want to sit through it again. If you enjoyed the book, you might like it, but my sister said that they left out a lot of important and plot hole filling information. The biggest crime was the boredom that I felt. The majority of the action sequences didn’t have any tension because it was either in her head or a part of training. While the heroine is likable, I found myself wishing that the story was about the more interesting side characters. If I were you, I’d wait until it comes out on Netflix or cable.