Monday, January 25, 2016

Divergent (2014)


Is it just me or does every popular Young Adult, or YA, novel take place in a post dystopian society? Well, the stories usually begin when the societies within this post dystopian world are seemingly at peace after great unrest several years before. Then everything goes to shit because of one teenager or group of teenagers. Sounds like The Hunger Games and even like Divergent. (Maybe I should write a novel like this that takes place in a dystopian NJ… wait it’s been done in South Park and is pretty much like that in some parts already… dammit!). Unlike The Hunger Games, the story of Divergent is not set off entirely because of one teenager but it does involve a bunch of teenagers who see their entire world the way they knew come crumbling down at the hands of greed and power.
            The story begins on the day when Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) and her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) are to choose their new factions. Their world is divided into five different factions: Dauntless, Erudite, Amity, Candor, and Abnegation which Beatrice and Caleb belong to. When children turn sixteen a test is given to them to determine what faction they can go to or if they could stay in their own. Once that test is over they then go to a ceremony where they choose what faction they want to go if they want to switch. The only thing is they can never see their families again if they leave them behind.
            Beatrice is nervous about her test. She loves her brother and their mother and father but she just does not feel like she truly belongs in Abnegation. For the tests the kids are given a serum that create a simulation in their mind but the proctors can also see. Beatrice’s simulation is strange and different. So different is her simulation in fact that the proctor tells her to leave quickly that her tests are inconclusive and need to be changed. Her test came back that she could either be in Dauntless or Abnegation and if people found out she could be killed.
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            She is tortured about what she should choose. Beatrice does not want to let her parents down she does truly love them. She keeps thinking that her brother will stay. At the choosing ceremony Caleb chooses to go to Erudite which totally shocks Beatrice. Now she is truly tortured over what she must do. Following her gut Beatrice chooses to go with the Dauntless.
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            Dauntless are crazy buggers. They run around all fearless and create a little chaos wherever they go. The faction is also the one who guards the city’s huge wall. None of the new initiates are guaranteed a place in Dauntless they have to pass tests of all kinds. If they do not make the cut at the end of initiation they could be factionless. Beatrice struggles for a while against her fear, instinct, and other people to rise in the ranks of the initiates. She also struggles with her feelings for her trainer Four (Theo James)
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            Almost as soon as she is initiated into Dauntless war begins. The Erudite leader Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet) has managed to get help from Dauntless to overthrow Abnegation and possibly even the other factions. At the initiation ceremony the former initiates are all injected with a serum that is a mind control serum. Beatrice or Tris as she chooses to be known as, is immune to the serum because she is Divergent. She watches as her Abnegation people are slaughtered. Even her parents fall in the attack.
            The cast was pretty good. Shailene Woodley is such a great actress. She is one of my favorite young actresses around today. She is so good in whatever role she plays. I thought Woodley was perfect as Tris, you could believe that this girl could be timid yet be able to totally kick your ass. Theo James, my god this man is so beautiful! He was a good Four but Four is supposed to be eighteen and I think James is in his early thirties. That is my only complaint and really it is not much of a complaint. Ansel Elgort was not really in this movie too much. Even if he was I do not really have an opinion of him as an actor. Miles Teller was also in this movie as Peter who, I guess, is one of the movie’s antagonists. The character of Peter is so much better in the book. Like there is a reason you do not like him in the movie but in the book there is a gigantic reason why you HATE him. Miles Teller is great in whatever role he is in just like Woodley is. Acting seems to come so naturally to him that he fits into whatever character he plays. Kate Winslet was good in the role of Jeanine Matthews. There is a “but” to this, since Winslet was cast I am pretty sure her character’s role was greatly expanded and I feel this expansion took away from other aspects of the story. The expansions also sucked for the character as well I think. I have to give a big mention to Maggie Q who played the test proctor Tori. Even though her role was small I have nothing but praise for her. She fit right in the Dauntless world.
            Now, is it just me or does it seem that a girl is always the main character in these post-dystopian societies and they are the ones who bring change or that change happens when they come around? I do not want this to sound like a complaint because it is not. I am all for girls/women becoming stronger people and helping to bring about change for the better I think it is super empowering to teenage girls or women who read them. Maybe I do not read enough YA books or watch enough YA movies to know what the hell I am talking about.
            Divergent was pretty good. Usually I am alright with the differences between book and movie but with Divergent there was so many smaller moments that were left of the movie from the book that some parts just did not make sense. I will not go too deep into the differences between book and movie. If you are cool enough and would like to see a discussion my friend Lizzy and I had about the book and the movie check out our video review here.

            Divergent is definitely worth seeing at least once. 
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