Movie Review: Divergent

In this year’s most-anticipated dystopian film, Divergent, there is everything from secrecy to danger, followed by a generous serving of romance, of course.

If you fell head over heels for Hunger Games and Twilight, this film is right up your alley. Based on the 2011 book series by Veronica Roth, Divergent is about a seemingly ordinary teenage girl, Tris Prior, who suddenly becomes the center of attention in her entire society when she deems herself as different and perhaps even deadly to the order of the government.

As a reader of the book series, I thought that director Neil Burger did an excellent job in explaining the different factions and minor details that encompass the storyline. When the movie was first announced, I was afraid that those who hadn’t read the books wouldn’t understand the parallel universe that Roth had created within her stories. However, I was relieved to discover that Burger had created a film that was easy for non-readers to understand.

On the other hand, I wished that Burger had chosen a male lead who is less like eye candy. Tris’s teacher and love interest, Four, portrayed by British actor Theo James, is a major entity of the entire movie. One might say, what’s a teenage dystopian novel without a fresh-faced heartthrob who steals the hearts of female viewers? I think, on the contrary, that the fact that James is so handsome only distracts viewers from the real content and meaning behind the story. Divergent is about a girl who tries to beat the system and finds herself on an epic journey—not a steamy teacher-student affair.

[one_third]I wished that Burger had chosen a male lead who is less like eye candy.[/one_third]

The last 30 minutes of the film had me on the edge of my seat with fast-paced fight scenes and heart-wrenching deaths of significant characters. I was thoroughly engaged with everything that was happening on the scene, until the slow and cheesy ending with Tris and Four having flashbacks on the train. Tris looks off into the distance as actor Shalene Woodley’s voice narrates the character’s deep, profound thoughts. Then the movie ends. Her deep soliloquy isn’t exactly a cliff-hanger.

Overall, the film was a success. The fight scenes, and the sizzling young romance between Tris and Four held my attention throughout the movie. Additionally, Burger did all the right things: he rounded up a star-studded cast, followed the storyline of the book seemingly well (and perhaps made a movie is better than the book), and painted a character whom viewers can’t help but adore for her self-empowering image. Nevertheless, I hope Divergent was just an appetizer; I can’t wait to dive into the main dish, Insurgent, the sequel due out in Spring 2015.

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