REVIEW: Divergent

20 11 2014

Roger Ebert once wrote, “Look at a movie that a lot of people love, and you will find something profound, no matter how silly the film may seem.”  Keeping that in mind, I approached “Divergent,” the latest in a series of hit YA series adapted for the screen, less as a reviewer and more as a phenomenologist.  What exactly is it that this movie is tapping into?  What function is it fulfilling for viewers?

This was actually a great way to watch the film because otherwise, it provided very little entertainment or enjoyment.  “The Hunger Games” somehow manages to maintain a vague sense of artistic integrity; the assembly of “Divergent,” meanwhile, seems the result of focus groups and marketing executives.  Everything from its color-by-numbers plot to its Top 40-friendly soundtrack feels calculated and inauthentic.

But a deeper look into the heart of Veronica Roth’s story (as adapted for the screen by Evan Daugherty and Vanessa Taylor) actually reveals some intriguing thematic strands.  “Divergent” follows Shailene Woodley’s Tris, a teenager in a dystopian Chicago, as she attempts to find her place amongst the rigidly divided factions in her society.  Struggles with belonging and discovering one’s developing identity?  Sounds a lot like high school…

“Divergent” stands out in my mind as being the most directly applicable YA series for its target audience in everything from the frightfulness of not fitting completely into a single neat box or having to earn your place in anything.  Unlike “The Hunger Games,” which casts teenagers in very adult situations, this story speaks directly to teenage concerns.  Regrettably, however, it clouds these messages by involving stereotypical oppressive authoritarian entities like Kate Winslet’s Jeanine.

As “Divergent” moves from the personal from the political in its second half, any momentum it had built up dissipates rather quickly.  The bloated length of 140 minutes certainly does not help matters, quickly converting excitement into boredom.  I remain unsure as to whether or not I will bother to see any of the sequels to the film.  I seem to at least have some understanding of its appeal now, and I feel pretty content with just that.  C2stars

Advertisements

Actions

Information

One response

20 11 2014
Courtney Small

I must admit that the film was better than I expected it would be, but still greatly flawed. I would pretty much give it the same ranking as you did in this review. Shailene Woodley and some of the action sequences were the elements that kept my attention throughout. Having said that, I am a little curious to see where they go with the next film.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: