Friday, March 21, 2014
Movie Review: Divergent
I was very excited for this movie before seeing it because I've read the novel of the same name, albeit a while ago, and it did not disappoint. The film takes place in a futuristic Chicago, but instead of flying cars, it has ruins, due to "the war" that is briefly mentioned, and if you're observant you'll be able to pick out some landmarks like the Willis Tower (formerly known as Sears) and a charred Navy Pier.
Beatrice (Shailene Woodley, who later goes by simply "Tris") lives with her parents and brother in the Abnegation faction, where they are selfless and have no vanity. She and her brother are now of age where they have to take "the test" that tells them what faction they really belong in, and then choose a faction for themselves on their choosing day. After her test, Tori (Maggie Q), the test administrator, hurries Tris out a back door, and says she has marked her as Abnegation - because the test was inconclusive, which is dangerous in their society; it means she is Divergent, someone who belongs in multiple factions, and the government hunts and kills Divergents. When choosing day arrives, Tris shocks everyone and chooses Dauntless instead of Abnegation - the tribe that's been called "crazy" and is tasked with being soldiers and protecting all of the citizens in the society. Even in a faction where she doesn't really seem to fit in, she must hide her Divergertness, or else her life could be in danger.
I already knew I liked the story in Divergent, but I also liked the cast here. Woodley does fine as Tris, and the gorgeous Theo James plays Four, who underneath his gruff exterior has a soft spot for Tris. Ashley Judd plays Tris's mother, who harbors a secret of her own, and Zoe Kravitz and Miles Teller play "classmates" of Tris's in Dauntless. There's also Maggie Q as the woman who was the test administrator, and who pops up again later in the movie, and a cool and collected Kate Winslet as Jeanine, the leader of the government who has an evil agenda. A kind of funny thing too is that Ansel Elgort plays Caleb, Tris's brother, and Elgort and Woodley will be together again on the big screen for The Fault in Our Stars (also based on a bestselling book) later this year - but as boyfriend and girlfriend rather than brother and sister.
Yes, see this movie. Film #2 in the series, Insurgent, has already started pre-production, and Shailene is signed on for that and the finish of the trilogy, Allegiant; the movies come out in 2015 and 2016, respectively. It will be interesting to see if the series can be a box office contender with the likes of Hunger Games and other dystopian films, whose success is partly due to the droves of book fans that come to the movies to see it. Regardless, I am definitely looking forward to seeing Insurgent next year and Allegiant the year after that.
Divergent is in theaters today, March 21st, and is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 139 minutes. 4.5 stars out of 5.