UK Release: April 1st 2014
Based on the young adult novels by Veronica Roth, Neil Burger’s adaptation of ‘DIVERGENT’, is very much posed to be the next big phnominum for that teenage core audience. This coming off the back of ‘Twilight’, and more predominantly ‘The Hunger Games’ is et in the future where war has ravaged cities, to keep peace citizens of districts across the world fall into five categories based around characteristic of: Abnegations (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave, and where the films follows more), and Erudite (the intelligent). However when Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) comes to age, and has to take the test she soon discovers that she is Divergent, and has the skills of all of the major five categories, unbeknown that she becomes public enemy to Jeaninie Matthews (Kate Winslet), since it’s illegal to be that.
Now I do like this whole set up. I like the idea that the head strong heroine here is the one trying to fit into a click/social class, by trying to be someone else. It might not be the most groundbreaking of metaphors, but for the target audience you can certainly relate and make connections to what is presented here. It really shows the prejudice you can get from other for being ‘’different’’, and standing out from the crowd. And also the whole idea of trying to fit into a social standing or click by presenting yourself in the social sphere as someone you aren’t, so you can fit (certainly the context of social media, and being who you want to be on that to change opinions, certainly comes into context).
When the ‘Divergent’ is operating in the early stages of this pattern and theme, the film is very interesting indeed, it is just a shame it suffers from a few issues which could be attributed to the fact that it is very much a typical origins story (after all this getting several sequels). The big issue with this film in its very much down to Evan Daugherty and Vanessa Taylor’s script, the films seems to get bogged down in endless training scenes which certainly makes it feel longer then the (already just over) two hours running time. And this is a shame as i find the opening half of the film rather interesting, the idea of being introduced to these class’ and their own (if yet caricatured) classes. It does make you think that the reasoning behind this fleshing out off the training sequences, is to try capitalise on some of the winning formula which worked on the first ‘Hunger Games’. The only issue here is, while it is integral to ‘Divergent’s story, the endless training sequences gives little room to the secondary characters (Miles Teller, Maggie Q, Ashley Judd, Ray Stevenson) , particularly when most of the films emotional heft comes from some of them in the films third act. To be truly successful you need a lasting consequence to happen (particularly when it comes to a origin story – look into Joseph Campbell), and while audiences might have saw this earlier this year out of interest, I believe it could make the film have more of a lasting appeal and an identity then that of ‘’the other ‘Hunger Games’ style franchise’’, which it has been dubbed as on the internet. There is also a bizarre chemical plot thread introduced towards the end of the film, which (because of having to sit through endless training sequences) fells very added on/shoved in to act more as a function to get it out of the rhythm it has got itself into, and give a ending to the film. Saying this though this could very well be a criticism of the book, something I haven’t read.
Saying this thought the cast is very impressive. There is mileage to be made in the character of Beatrice Prior (Woodley, fits the role like a glove) and there is decent support all around including that of Theo James and Jai Courtney. There is certainly an independent vibe to the film as well, it might lack some vainer of glamour to the proceeding which most franchise starters have these days in Hollywood (it might explain the endless training scenes, having being able to reuse sets) and you get the impression that having Kate Winslet means a lot to the film, you even get the impression that Kate Winslet shot her scenes in a week, not that im saying anything against her as she ‘’bounces’’ of the cast very well. There is also a bizarre thing inregards to the films costume design which seems to make middle aged men of a particularly age think of 1970’s British Sci-Fi. Critic Mark Kermode said it evoked images of ‘Blake 7’, while my Father said it reminded him visually of ITV’s ‘The Tomorrow People’.
While it might seem a chog (a lot of it down to poor pacing of story and just being too long), ‘Divergent’ might be better come its sequel next year. Gone have the shackles of having to tell the origins story, and now can come something which utilizes its relevant set up and hopefully something more palatable. It will just be interesting to see if audiences will return for a second bout, as while not terrible, you do believe that it might not be as convincing as perhaps you might have wanted it to be, and it deserves. But if there is one thing though the cast certainly deserves the recognition.