By: Olivia M.
Veronica Roth’s notorious novel, Divergent, premiered as a thrilling action-adventure movie in theaters across the United States on Friday, March 21. The film takes place in a dystopian society modeling a post-apocalyptic version of Chicago where citizens are divided into five factions based on personality characteristics. Shailene Woodley stars as main character, Tris Prior, alongside actors Theo James as Four, and Kate Winslet who plays faction leader Jeanine Matthews.
Beatrice Prior is born into the Abnegation faction that values selflessness, looking after the poor and the factionless, as well as running the government. As part of becoming an adult, Prior must take the aptitude test, an injected serum that stimulates the mind, in order to uncover the suggested faction she should choose to live in for the rest of her life. Instead of coming up with a clear answer, Prior’s test results are inconclusive and she learns from her proctor that she is Divergent, meaning that she possesses qualities from several different factions. Divergents are seen as a threat to society because they do not conform and their thinking can not be regulated by the government, thus, Prior is encouraged not to share her results with anyone. At the choosing ceremony the next day, Prior must choose one of the five factions: Abnegation (selfless), Amity (kind), Candor (honest), Dauntless (brave), or Erudite (intelligent). Caleb Prior, Beatrice’s brother choses Erudite, and Beatrice selects Dauntless.
Dauntless initiation begins and Beatrice shortens her name to “Tris.” Initiates leap off of moving trains, jump into a mysterious pit from a building, and physically fight one another. Although she struggles with the physical stages of training at first, Tris is able to train and improve so that she can be Dauntless and not become factionless. Proceeding the physical stage of training is mental training. Tris’s divergence aides her when she must enter her fear landscape and overcome her deepest worries. Four, a Dauntless trainer who takes Tris under his wing, warns her to conceal her abilities and treat her fears as a Dauntless would so that Jeanine Matthews and other faction leaders will not discover that she is Divergent. On a visit to Erudite to visit Caleb, Tris learns that the Erudite are plotting to overthrow Abnegation in order to become the ruling faction. Despite the fact that Tris has become Dauntless, her happiness with her decision is short lived when the Erudite inject all of the Dauntless with a serum to create an army that will kill the Abnegation. The serum does not work on Tris, Four, and the other Divergents, so they are forced to blend in with the rest. Tris, Caleb, Four, and her father must sneak into Erudite headquarters to shut down the program or else the Abnegation faction will be permanently destroyed.
Although the movie was nearly two and a half hours, its captivating plot, intense physical training, and suspenseful actions kept me entertained and eagerly awaiting every move. Surprisingly, I felt that the film coincided with Roth’s novel almost perfectly including several memorable quotes. In all honesty, when I saw the movie preview, I was disappointed in the casting of Shailene Woodley as Tris. However, I believe Woodley was an outstanding actress for the role, unless of course there was the possibility of Jennifer Lawrence playing Tris. Strong-willed and determined, the audience seemed to be rooting for Tris to succeed throughout the film. The movie stayed relatively true to plot, characters, and setting, yet still remained original and startling.
On the contrary, the special effects including a bird attack, a fire, and an attacking dog were not realistic. The lack of detail in these scenes made the elements vague and difficult to decipher. For example the growling dog’s teeth were clearly fake and therefor, not intimidating to say the least. In addition, I thought Shailene Woodley’s lack of agony when her mother dies in a shooting negatively draws from the emotion of the movie; would anyone really say, “Oh my God!” and run on after losing a loved one?
Overall, Divergent is a well executed film perfect for anyone seeking an action movie mixed with tragedy and romance. The novel is a must read before seeing the film, including the other two books in the trilogy, Insurgent and Allegiant. However, unfortunately like most book series, the proceeding books are not nearly as outstanding as the first book. The suspenseful ending of Divergent will leave viewers anxiously awaiting the release of Insurgent in 2015.