on 8 June 2015
A great start to what I hope will be a superb franchise. Unlike many science-fiction stories, the narrative is focused on the main character's journey as she tries to identify where she fits in a post-war world. In fact, the main plot take a second role to the growth of her character for the main part of the movie, with a much more typical generic action ending. So if you're after a science fiction action romp then this isn't it, although it does have some lovely action scenes - one in particular had me rewind the scene to have the pleasure of watching it again. It is therefore fortunate the the main character is very well acted, and this film is more about her journey than about the wider societal issues that form the ending. The film is also nicely grounded despite it being set centuries in the future, so there is little in the form of distracting CGI visuals - not that I mind some eye-candy effects but it's refreshing to have a nicely fleshed out world that feels real. Looking forward to watching the sequel, which I suspect will have a more action now that the main story and characters have been introduced.
on 22 June 2015
While the Hunger Games stories will sit at the top of the futuristic dystopian teen-angst genre, it is nice to see a movie which can credibly deserve to sit on the first branch down. Based on the novels by Veronica Roth we are transported to a dire futuristic Chicago where all citizens are assigned to a faction in their teen years following testing, while those exhibiting qualities of various factions are rounded up and exterminated. Our heroine Tris falls into the latter but keeps her true self hidden as she fights to survive in her chosen faction. I actually enjoyed Divergent as the action was steady and the tension was maintained throughout. A good start to the trilogy.
on 27 May 2015
It is always a difficult task to create a story/film for the emerging young. I think this achieves it quite well. The layers are just right. All films are illusions but this manages to penetrate the complexity of life and offers good warnings for a new generation about conforming and trusting too readily the world you grow up into and encounter. And it doesn't preach. Good entertainment and a cut above many teenage coming of age movies. Hey! Young adults have to start somewhere and this does it well.
on 16 March 2016
Four INTRODUCTORY Stars. "Divergent", based on the novel by Veronica Roth, is a post-apocalyptic movie along the lines of "Hunger Games" but very confined in location, themes, and conflict. After a terrible world war, only some in the world survived. Hundreds of years later, survivors are living and thriving inside Chicago, surrounded by a wall, and split into 5 functional, allegedly harmonious factions, except for the factionless. But there is an internal power struggle and there are secret 'divergents' who don't fit any faction and could be a threat. Beatrice "Tris" Prior emerges as a focal point and leader. Early on, it seems more time than necessary is spent on "Dauntless" and their rituals and less on other factions, but it helps the overall conspiracy and storyline since we are following Tris' development. Directed by Neil Burger. Starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ashley Judd, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, Tony Goldwyn, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer, and Kate Winslet. Well acted, well plotted in a unique universe and Very Definitely Recommended. Four DAUNTLESS stars (Summit Entertainment and Red Wagon Entertainment. PG-13. HD Color. CC. X-Ray. 2:19:40. Note: This movie ends on a minor cliff-hanger leading to the next installment, "Insurgent", which I was intrigued enough to buy. Two more movies are planned after that one.)
I really enjoyed this film even though it is probably aimed at a young audience. I identified with the chief protagonist,Tris, whose individuality renders her unable to fit into any of the five factions that make up a futuristic ,dystopian Chicago society. She is a Divergent, someone who cannot be pigeon holed into one category by the ruling elite. They see such types as dangerous ,unpredictable and a threat to social cohesion and they are hunted down and killed. Tris hides her secret and joins the daring ,warrior faction Dauntless.The film follows her progress as she undergoes a difficult training programme ,falls in love and tries to avoid detection. However in the background, one faction tries to usurp the governing role of another and this threatens Tris's family and the protective role of her Dauntless faction. Can she avoid detection and use her multi faceted skills to save the day ? "Divergent" is an exciting,imaginative film and is a critique of bad minded ruling elites desires to crush individuality and homogenise society into manageable ,ignorant little units. There's plenty of action,suspense and romance in this highly entertaining film.
If I was to tell a story of someone not 'fitting-in' to a particular group it would be difficult to hold your interest. But if I set that story in the far future and create five specific groups you become interested.
The one star reviews refuse to accept the existence of this social outcast type of story. Where one person can 'fit' into many groups. The biggest line in the movie goes something like: "you don't fit in to this group therefore you can not be controlled." You will note I am avoiding using the language created for the story.
As a movie it minded me of Logan's Run, Blade Runner and The Matrix. Whilst none of these movies are up to Blade Runner's level (very close to classic movie of any genre) the other two each have ideas about how current society is operating, ideas enveloped in a youthful, sci-fi adventure. Never was life on two levels (seeming and actual) so well presented as it is in The Matrix.
Standard fare these days is a Babe and her attraction to a man just out of reach. I preferred the Mature woman played by Kate Winslet although let down by her control freakery and obsession with administration. But enough of my porn fix, the movie is enjoyable and certainly not just the province of early teen girls.
on 2 November 2014
A really good family sci-fi film that has plenty of action & a decent plot.Set in a dystopian society after a huge war 100 years earlier,survivors now live in a city surrounded by a large wall.They are split into factions based on thier personalities,at a certain age they sit a test which tells them which faction they're best suited to but they can choose based on where they think they belong.
If you fail the test & it's inconclusive you are divergent,these people are considered a threat to the system & a threat to the peace,faction before blood,human nature has no place here.
The film centers round Beatrice who faces seperation from her family & a life trying to hide that she is actually divergent,but when she joins thier law enforcement faction,she finds a suprising allie who could help her.Failure to pass the hard training will mean living factionless,said to be worse than death,or if she is found out as a divergent they will kill her.
When i started watching this it did feel like it could be another spin on "Logans Run" or The Island" but i was wrong.This is actually quite character driven to a point,diologue's good,the story has plenty of meat on the bones & it needs a sequal.
Very good,well worth watching.
on 25 February 2015
I thought this was a good stab at creating a dystopian future society. It captured very well the feeling of being different and having to hide this in a society where roles and behaviour are prescribed by a system. The characterisation was believable and I think the director was justified in spending quite a long time setting up the story by dwelling on the recruits training. Which was why I felt disappointed that the ending was so rushed. While I'm not a great fan of sequels, this film could have upped the ante and left the ending on a cliff hanger at the point when the take over is complete and all seems lost for the main protagonists. If ever a film needed an ending like this it is this one. Perhaps this story would have been more suited to a TV series because that is an ideal format to develop a slower narrative pace and set up repeated cliff hangers.
Like Enders Game, which initially appears to be little more than an extended video game, this film leaves the viewer with quite profound questions about conforming to an ideal of loyalty to the state and its often dubious motivations. It also attempts to show how empathy for others can sometimes lead people to question the kind of propaganda that is used to justify discrimination and conformity.
Some have complained that the attractiveness of the leads takes away from the divergent message but I think that's besides the point considering that classics like Blade Runner, Alien and every other big budget Hollywood production have cast attractive leads. Hollywood is built on conformity and stereotypes but still manages, at times, to rise above this.
on 1 January 2016
I loved the book and really enjoyed the film. The film kept to the actual storyline of the book really well, but while Shailene Woodley and Theo James were both brilliant in the roles of Tris and Four, the book made repeated references to the fact that Tris was very small, making the initiation challenges more difficult for her, while Shailene is actually 5'8". The book also said that the character of Christina was tall, but Zoe Kravitz, the actress portraying her, is actually very small and only about 5'2". Also the initiates are all only just 16 years of age, but the actors playing them are all in their mid or late 20s and Theo James, playing an 18 year old Four, is actually 31. I appreciate it Is probably difficult to recruit teenage actors with the experience to portray such powerful characters, but Divergent is the type of book that describes the physical and emotional attributes of each character really well, thereby forming a picture in the reader's mind,
That said, I did enjoy the film and if I hadn't read the book I would probably have given it 5 stars. Will definitely be watching Insurgent once I have finished the book.
on 9 April 2014
In the future, after an unnamed war, Brave New World Chicago becomes a walled city nation. There are 5 factions or work groups in this tiered society. People can choose which one they want to be in, after they go through a Sorting Hat test. Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) discovers she is a "divergent" i.e. someone who doesn't neatly fit into any group. Bummer about the DNA. Divergents are hunted and killed.
Beatrice hides this fact and joins a group of muscle headed protectors, changes her name to Tris and gets a tattoo. She enters a unisex "Starship Troopers" dorm where she will train and either make the grade or get cut and join the factionless beggars. Much of the film centers around her training and of course she meets a boy (Theo James) who helps her along the way until things go awry.
The production steals from a number of different pop culture iconic films/books. At times it was groan worthy. Having said that, I did enjoy the film, even while groaning through so many scenes. This was clearly aimed at teens, especially teen girls.
The film is worth seeing as a wannabe iconic production.