Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Ashley Judd, Jai Courtney, Zoë Kravitz, Ray Stevenson, Miles Teller, Tony Goldwyn, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Christian Madsen, and more.
Directed by: Neil Burger Screenplay by: Evan Daugherty and Vanessa Taylor Based on the Novels by: Veronica Roth Cinematography by: Alwin H. Küchler Music by: Junkie XL
Premise: Years after a war that destroyed most of the world, Chicago continues to function due to a five category split caste system. Beatrice and her brother have reached the age of choosing and go have the test which will show them which of the castes they are more aligned towards. Except the test in Beatrice’s case came out as inconclusive, something the tester makes sure she understands and warns her not to tell anyone about. As Breatice struggles to make a decision on who she wants to be, she also starts getting an inkling that the system may not be functioning like it’s supposed to anymore. (Rated PG-13)
1) Acting – Total Thumbs Up: Shailene Woodley does a good job as the spunky and fearless Tris. Theo James was delicious as the aloof, mysterious, yet slowly warming teacher named Four. Kate Winslet deftly sent mixed signals and kept the audience guessing in her role as Jeanine.
2) Special Effects – Total Thumbs Up: Most of the special effects are subtle and are mostly in the background – the ship in the middle of the wheat fields, the giant mesh wall around the city, the compact wind turbines mounted on the sides of dead Chicago buildings.
In the drug induced sequences the special effects play a bigger part, and with some nicely imaginative segues. Tris’s initiation ride after the war games was scary fun.
3) Plot/Story – Thumbs Up: I’ve not read the series of YA novels the film is based on, so I can’t give any kind of opinion on how faithfully rendered the movie was. Although, from all the clapping and whistling during several points in the film, it appeared that many of the fans were pleased.
There were definitely several elements seeded over the course of the film that grabbed my attention and not only warned of possible troubles ahead for our heroine, but the society she’d been raised in as well. Hints and bits of the political and social order and the bubbling issues beneath the surface get flashed here and there, as we follow Tris through the typical angst caused by bullies and the not so typical stress of getting thrown into a situation from which she and others might not survive.
There aren’t many surprises in the story, but enough stuff is going on to entertain.
4) Cinematography – Total Thumbs Up: The opening scene started with the mundane, then took a left turn. It spoke volumes without a single word being said. The sweeps of the remnants of Chicago were deftly done. The skyline seemed familiar yet also alien due to the broken spires and the turbines attached to them like extra growths.
Conclusion: “Divergence” was entertaining. The premise is unusual, although overall the plot was pretty standard. The visuals of the city and the imagery used in the mental tests for the choosing, and later to force the initiates to face their fears were rather cool.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)