Sunday, March 30, 2014

Divergent (2014)

My roommate, who is an avid moviegoer, went to see Divergent today, and I decided to tag along. I'll be honest, I was ready to write Divergent off as a Hunger Games clone, but I'm glad I gave it a try, because I really enjoyed it. In fact, I probably liked it more than the first Hunger Games movie (but not the second). I liked it enough I'd even go and watch it again.

Sci-fi dystopia stories are a dime a dozen - it's true - but then again, I guess you could say the same about any genre, including horror. Divergent takes place in a part-ravaged, part-technologically advanced post-apocalyptic war-torn Chicago, within which survivors have created a haven separated from the unnamed dangers that lurk beyond the wall built at the city limits.

The society is split into five factions: Abnegation, consisting of the selfless, who help others; Dauntless, which breeds soldiers and enforcers; Erudite, the intelligentia and scientists; Amity, the members of which tend the fields and value kindness above all other virtues; and Candor, who are servants of truth and honesty. When a person in this society reaches maturity, they must make a decision as to which faction they will join.

Naturally, there is some tension between the factions, but more importantly, the existence of "divergents" - people who do not conform to a single faction - are viewed as a lethal threat to the smooth running of the system. Enter Beatrice "Tris" Prior, a girl raised in the Abnegation faction, who nevertheless associates more with the Dauntless, and soon finds out that she is one of these divergents.

I thought Divergent did a good job of telling a fairly confined story, while serving as the preface to further conflict in what is, like The Hunger Games, based on a trilogy of novels. I liked the main characters: Shailene Woodley was both pretty and emotive as the primary protagonist; Theo James did a great job of portraying the tough but sensitive love interest; and Kate Winslet channeled a chilling detachment for the divergent-hunter who would pay any price to keep the system running.

I'll be looking forward to seeing where the story heads in future installments.

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