In a world divided by factions based on virtues, Tris learns she's Divergent and won't fit in. When she discovers a plot to destroy Divergents, Tris and the mysterious Four must find out wha... Read allIn a world divided by factions based on virtues, Tris learns she's Divergent and won't fit in. When she discovers a plot to destroy Divergents, Tris and the mysterious Four must find out what makes Divergents dangerous before it's too late.In a world divided by factions based on virtues, Tris learns she's Divergent and won't fit in. When she discovers a plot to destroy Divergents, Tris and the mysterious Four must find out what makes Divergents dangerous before it's too late.
The setting is the walled city of Chicago after a great war. Their society is divided into five distinct Factions based on personality traits: Dauntless (brave), Amity (friendly), Candor (honest), Erudite (intelligent) and Abnegation (selfless).
At the age of 16, a child takes an examination to help him choose which one will be his faction for the rest of his life. He may follow the suggestion of the exam results, or he may decide on his own. Those who fail to be accepted into a faction becomes factionless, as they become hopelessly poor and destitute for life.
Our heroine Beatrice Prior has been born to the Abnegation faction with their grey clothes and disdain for any form of vanity. However, her examination results are revealed to be inconclusive, so she has to make her own decision. Meanwhile, an uprising is brewing in Erudite against the government run by Abnegation.
I had some problem with the book and the way they try to make the Factions distinct from each other, when it is easy to see that overlapping does happen. These traits simply cannot be mutually exclusive from each other. It is also disturbing the way the author describes the Dauntless. Does being brave mean jumping off running trains, having piercings and tattoos, beating each other up mercilessly, or even killing yourself? This may give immature readers the wrong ideas about courage.
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The film was a perfectly conceived interpretation of the book. In the first few scenes where they show the color-coded clothes distinguishing each faction was quite clear. How director Neil Burger showed us most of the memorable scenes in the book, like the choosing ceremony, the jumping on and off the trains, the fear landscapes of Tris and Four, and the invasion of Abnegation were all very well done.
There were some parts which were reinterpreted in the film. Most did not really affect the story-telling, like changing how Tris meets her Mom during Visiting Day, or glossing over a particularly violent episode where Peter stabs a fellow initiate in the eye. There was one big change towards the end about how a climactic surprise rescue transpired. I thought the version in the book was so much more better set-up and executed than the less-dramatic altered version we saw on screen.
As I suspected, the tall and beautiful Shailene Woodley is definitely not the small and mousy Tris we imagine while reading the book. However, I thought Shailene gave an excellent portrayal of Tris' character, how she developed from a shy dependent girl to a confident fearless warrior. For people who have not read the books, they will not be aware of any discrepancy at all.
Theo James had very good romantic chemistry with Shailene, so his Four never really felt like a threat to Tris, unlike the initial parts in the book. The director gave James a lot of lingering close-ups for the benefit of the teenage fan girls.
Ansel Elgort, who played Tommy Ross in "Carrie" recently, now plays Tris' brother Caleb. His Caleb is less dynamic than I imagined him in the book. Coincidentally, Elgort has an upcoming movie with Shailene Woodley later this year called "The Fault in Our Stars" where they play boyfriend-girlfriend.
More up and coming actors play other more minor characters. Zoe Kravitz, who was in "After Earth" last year, is not exactly how I envisioned Tris' best friend, but she won me over as the film went along. Miles Teller, who was recently in "That Awkward Moment", plays bad boy Peter, whose role in the film is much diminished compared to the book. Jai Courtney, who played Bruce Willis' son in "A Good Day to Die Hard" last year, brutally plays Tris' tormentor in the training camp.
Among the senior stars, Ashley Judd makes a nice comeback of sorts playing Tris' mother, who had major secrets of her own. Maggie Q played Tris' examiner and tattoo artist Tori with the requisite compassion. Kate Winslet plays the cool and calculating Erudite uprising leader Jeanine with icy perfection.
Overall, I thought this film was a practically perfect interpretation of a book that was less than perfect in itself. So, whatever things the film might show us which we might not like, like the slow pace of action progression, and the questionable motives of the characters, are actually because the book told it that way. Fans of the "Divergent" books will find this film version faithful. While it cannot compare to the high standard set by the Hunger Games film series in terms of cinematic quality and character casting, "Divergent" definitely has its own entertaining appeal going for it. 7/10.
- Mar 20, 2014