Divergent- A review

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Last night, I went to the cinema for the opening night of the film Divergent. This was to celebrate my friend Hannah’s 15th birthday (Happy birthday). Based on the hit book by Veronica Roth; a relatively young and new author. I had no idea of what I was going into when I bought my cinema ticket; I was told a very basic premise about this, and I was unsure of whether to actually go fearing I would lose interest in the film. I did go though; for it was my friend’s birthday, I was asked to go, I didn’t want to let them down, and I am writing this review. Be warned that this review does contain spoilers, so if you haven’t read the books or watched the films, I’d advise you bookmark my thoughts for a later dater. Or read this, I don’t care.

Premise

This film takes place in a post apocalyptic future (a very popular genre in the world of books) in the city of Chicago. A war has completely destroyed society and a new one has formed. People are split according to their personalities and their professions and attitudes are different, and this in turn makes this society work. These factions are as follows:

  • Abnegation, for the selfless
  • Amity, for the peaceful;
  • Candor, for the honest
  • Dauntless, for the brave
  • Erudite, for the Intelligent

Our protagonist is Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley). She was born into the Abnegation faction. When these kids turn 16, they take a test based on personality and this puts them at risk of leaving their families, and the results of Beatrice’s test shows she is a Divergent. What this means is that her test was inconclusive and her personality is a mixture of a few groups. The Divergent are treated as outcasts and second rate citizens and are seen as factionless, but the Abnegation care for them, which is considered controversial by some of the other factions; who want to take power from the Abnegation faction who are in charge of Governing this post apocalyptic state.

Beatrice joins Dauntless; as her proctor instructs her to, at the choosing ceremony. And she has to try and fit in with others in the group, to avoid being killed. It’s clear she doesn’t fit in at first, but after doing a lot of work, she manages to pull it off. It soon turns out that there is a conspiracy between Erudite and Dauntless to eradicate the Divergent and Abnegation factions. And the plot revolves around our hero; Beatrice, trying to save her family, save her society and herself. With the help of love interest Four (Theo James), her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and the rest of the Abnegation faction, they set out to defeat the leader of Erudite;¬†Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslett) and stop her from taking over this society.

The Good

I liked a lot about this film. Starting with the acting; it was excellent. A lot of these guys were younger and up and coming; Shailene Woodley is having a good year box office wise; appearing in 4 films so far this year (though her scenes in the Amazing Spiderman 2 have been deleted) with her next film the TFIOS movie coming out quite soon (who; coincidentally, she stars along side with Ansel Elgort who plays her brother in Divergent). I think she is on the cusp of winning a best newcomer Oscar soon; she is the next generation of actresses. Not to devalue the other castmembers, who give great, believable performances to their roles.

The visuals were really good also. the fear testing scenes were superb, with great imagery and imagination. This world is very immersive, its one I really would like to explore. All the sights of Chicago all wrecked and damaged from a pretty major war. You only learn that there is a war, you don’t get into the details. That leads you to imagine the damage inflicted on our world to make it like this.

While there were problems with this; I thought the plot was one of the most interesting things I have ever heard. Just all the little bits all working together to contribute to the final product. The war, the divergents, the conspiracy against Abnegation, the secrets revealed, the struggle to keep yourself hidden, it all interacts so damn well. I was so into it, I didn’t even leave to go to the toilet because I feared I would miss something important.

The Bad

All that being said, there were some aspects I wish they wouldn’t have done. I only really have two major problems:

The music for example, was not one of the better parts of this film. While music was not high on the agenda on what the film tried to achieve, the pop musicy soundtrack I wasn’t really a fan of. However, the actual score; by Hans Zimmer (who composed the music to the Lion King) was pretty good overall. But Junkie XL wasn’t the best composer I have heard in a film. He did OK though, so I will commend him for trying but I just didn”t like it.

The plot was also pretty predictable; in my opinion. I cannot really criticise the plot much, as I am sure that the book has the same issues, but I just found aspects fairly predictable (that Four and Beatrice were gonna hook up, the villain was Kate Winslett all along etc.). I don’t think this is the worst problem though, as a lot of films have fairly predictable plots (case and point, the liar revealed plot in almost all romantic comedy movies) these days. The plot of Divergent remained interesting enough though, as I said in the good section of my post.

Verdict

Overall, a solid film which is worth your money at the pictures if you’re thinking of going. Out of ten, this film is a solid 8/10. With all the minor problems put aside, this is a visually interesting and great film for you to watch; regardless of if you have or haven’t read the book. I understand that there are two more films in the series to watch after this one. I can safely say that I will watch the other films when they come out. But first, I must dash to Waterstones and get the books.

About the author

Ben

Since 2012, Benjamin Attwood has written for the If you Ask Ben blog.

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