Director: Neil Burger
Writers: Evan Daugherty, Vanessa Taylor, Veronica Roth
Stars: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet
Genre: Science-Fiction Action Thriller
Years ago a friend purchased the Divergent novel for me for Christmas. A few months later I read it and I thoroughly enjoyed the story. Tris’s bravery, determination, and sensitivity mixed with a gripping plot made for a great novel. I was very excited to discover that the book would be adapted to a film and I saw it on opening night. I’m happy to report this film was loyal to the book and I enjoyed it as much as the novel.
In dystopian Chicago, society has been divided into five factions: abnegation, candor, dauntless, amity, and erudite. When Tris takes the test to discover where she belongs, she learns she fits into all of them, a trait called being divergent, a trait that could get her killed. Now she must hide in another faction to avoid detection, but while she’s there, she discoversa conspiracy that could mean her home faction’s genocide.
Violence/Scary Images: Since the story is about a girl learning to become a soldier there are kids in training beating each other senseless. Later on, characters are shot in a gunfight and there is some blood. Various cuts, scratches, and bruises are prevalent on the characters.
Language/Crude Humor: A boy briefly makes a comment about the gender neutral shower and restroom area in Dauntless. Characters swear a few times: B**** is said twice, a**hole is said twice, and the Lord’s name is taken in vain five times.
Spiritual Content: None of note.
Sexual Content: Two characters kiss intensely in one scene. One hallucination scene has a character attempting to take advantage of another character, but it’s ended before anything happens.
Drug/Alcohol Reference: No drinking involved unless it’s in the background while they’re eating, but I didn’t notice any. The only thing remotely close to drugs is that serums are used to induce a sleep state where the characters hallucinate to take mental tests.
Other Negative Content: Some of the characters break the rules, but the rules aren’t exactly good ones.
Positive Content: The film has many themes of virtue, especially sacrifice and bravery. The movie focuses on Abnegation and Dauntless. What does it mean to be selfless? What does it mean to be brave? Are the two so different? Many characters display true bravery and selflessness for the ones they love–some even the ultimate act of sacrifice.
Divergent‘s plot is one of self-discovery and mystery. Tris has to discover who she is and where she stands as a person in her society. She goes through many trials to become a member of the Dauntless faction and she must unravel a conspiracy. The movie is full of triumphant and coming-of- age moments and also times that brought me to tears. The action sequences are intense and draw you in. I like the unusual fighting style used for the Dauntless. The movie stays very close to the book. Very little was changed, so fans will be happy about that.
Shailene Woodley (The Fault in Our Stars) does an amazing job in her role as the protagonist Tris Prior. Her acting is superb. Coming from seeing Kate Winslet in Titanic and Sense and Sensibility, it was definitely jarring to see her in the role of the villainess Jeanine, but she did an excellent job in the part. Theo James (Underworld: Awakening) is the perfect Four, showing both strength and sensitivity without being a cliche bad boy. The rest of the characters were perfectly casted as well.
Watching Tris grow from a hesitant girl into a strong woman is very fulfilling. You want to cheer her on along the way and you can relate to her struggles of wanting to belong somewhere. Jeanine is a wicked but a human villain. Her motives are understandable, but she is still evil and you want her to go down. Four is strong and protective, but not obsessive like what’s often seen in YA novels.
The sets were really amazing what with the grand Chicago in ruins and the different tones from each Faction such as the sterility of Erudite and humility of Abnegation. Some of the most impressive views were seen from atop heights at different times. Though, I’m not sure why they changed the Dauntless setting from caves like in the book to ruins. It seemed a bit odd. The costumes were well-done. I’m so glad they kept the colors involved with each faction. It’s such a neat visual. The styles of the clothes from each faction are very fun as well.
The CGI was perfect and imaginative in the many trippy sequences done in the tests.
The score was just amazing. Junkie XL composed an amazing soundtrack that perfectly captures the tone of the movie and with Ellie Goulding’s vocals the score is quite impressive. Add to that a few contemporary pieces by M83. I loved how the score was both whimsical and had a futuristic feel. A song near the end of the movie breaks my heart every time I hear it.
Divergent is an exciting film with great elements of virtue and self-discovery. And it’s loyal to the book so that’s a plus. It’s a well-done film and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
+ Good acting + Gorgeous Score + Intriguing Plot + Promotes Good Virtues
- Some swearing that wasn't included in the book
The Bottom Line
Divergent is a fast-paced tale of self-discovery and virtue. It has good acting from its star cast and stays loyal to the book. For fans of YA dystopian, this is a great watch.