Saturday, April 5, 2014
Movie review: Divergent
I went and saw Divergent the other night and thought it was great. So often lately when I see movies I am disappointed- but not this time. I have not read the book so I went in knowing almost nothing about the series- I knew there were five factions and that's about it. The beginning was interesting, with the rusting ship sitting in what used to be Lake Michigan apparently, and the great fence surrounding Chicago. That was impressive.
I thought Shailene Woodley did a great job as Tris. She was vulnerable but tough. I really liked the choosing ceremony and Tris' introduction to Dauntless was cool. I thought she really conveyed a sense of freedom as she jumped on that train and took off for her new life. The fact that she didn't go from weak to badass overnight was nice too- she got her butt kicked a few times and almost got booted, but her determination and inner toughness won out. That seemed realistic to me. It was nice to see her slowly win Four over that way as well.
I thought Theo was good as Four, tough and no- nonsense but he had a vulnerable side too, as Tris soon discovered. There were times when I desperately wanted him to slap Eric down, there's obviously a history between those two. I assume this is covered more in the book. I liked that the romance between Tris and Four was a slow build- and when it did happen Tris put the brakes on a bit, and Four was fine with that. He was classy about it and respected her. No whiny emo kids here! I especially liked they way they handled that in case my kids see this (and apparently my daughter is hearing all about at school) - sends a good message.
The director did a great job pacing this movie. So many movies these days are over hyped and turn out lame. This one genuinely thrilled me at times. It's a longish movie but I was never bored. They spent a lot of time on the Dauntless training but it was interesting to see how tough it was, and frankly this was my favorite part of the story. Tris' struggles and the capture-the-flag sequence were very well done, I thought. There's no way I would ever do that zip line though!
The only thing I didn't really like was the whole mind control thing. That seemed over the top and silly, almost. I get the faction vs. faction idea but the fact that everyone in Dauntless got this serum and became drones just didn't work for me. The movie seemed to devolve at that point into a shoot em up, and I also thought they infiltrated Dauntless base way to easily. At that point Tris was like a seasoned commando- just seemed a bit sudden. Still, it was nice to see her take charge. Of course Tris and Four had to fight- sigh. But he can't really hurt her because he loves her- check. Still, none of this was a deal breaker for me. It's just that a story I was really liking became a little predictable. I did like how it ended though- where do they go from here? Since I haven't read the books, I have no idea.
I have to say Veronica Roth has created a compelling, and frankly disturbing, story. This is not a world I would want to live in, but I would happily revisit in a sequel. I don't know if I'll read the books, but I thought the movie version was very good.
What did you think of Divergent? Are you a series veteran or a newbie like me?