Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Woofapalooza
December 9, 2023

Review: ‘Divergent’ film a worthy adaptation

The struggle to fit in is at the heart of director Neil Burger’s newest film “Divergent,” based off of Veronica Roth’s novel with the same name.
This futuristic film is set in Chicago after a large war. The city’s current occupants have built a giant fence that surrounds the city and have divided their citizens into five factions that each has its own values and occupation.
The faction system is supposed to ensure peace, but, like all dystopian storylines, something is always off. Once the children of this society are of age, they can either choose to stay in their own faction or join another, permanently.
Enter Tris Prior, played by Shailene Woodley, who has never felt comfortable with her own faction, Abnegation, that values selflessness and is therefore the governing entity.
The other four factions are the intelligent Erudite scientists, the peaceful Amity farmers, the trustworthy Candor and the brave Dauntless peacekeepers.
With the choosing ceremony approaching, at least she can rely on the aptitude test to tell her what faction she should choose.
Unfortunately, the test is inconclusive, meaning she has the aptitude for not one but three factions. This makes her Divergent, which puts her life in danger.
It’s a not-so-big surprise that the faction leaders do not like those who cannot be controlled by their system.
The adapted plot sticks fairly close to the novel, with some minor adjustments made to account for the amount of material in Roth’s work.
In fact, the film, at points, seemed to simply skip from one prominent scene to the next with some dull transitions.
That being said, the important scenes were all well done, including a zip-lining scene that really captures the bravery associated with being Dauntless, which is the faction Tris chooses.
Even with the lack of transitions, “Divergent” held my attention for the whole 139 minutes.
While the plot itself was clear and easy to follow, figuring out who the characters were was not.
It took me half of the movie to finally conclude the identity of the people on screen, and my friends who have not read the novel were even more confused. This is primarily because the characters sparsely say each other’s names.
At least I could identify Four, Tris’s instructor during her Dauntless initiation.
Played by Theo James, Woodley’s and his scenes were some of the best in the entire film, capturing the chemistry and tension between Tris and Four perfectly.
However, I was not impressed by Miles Teller’s portrayal of Peter, the psychopathic Dauntless initiate that tortures Tris throughout the movie.
Even if I were not constantly thinking of the dorky kid he played in “Footloose,” Teller’s Peter just did not inspire the fear and hatred I had when reading about him in the novels.
Peter may not have been casted correctly, but Kate Winslet’s performance as the cold-hearted and calculating Erudite leader Jeanine was perfect.
I have not loathed a character that much since Dolores Umbridge in “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.”
Ashley Judd’s portrayal of Tris’s mother Natalie was stunning as well. She delivers some of the most emotional scenes in the film with utter grace.
With few intensely violent scenes, this action movie still delivers a great plot with an ending that will make you crave more, which is exactly what at the least the novel sequel “Insurgent” delivers.
Now we just have to hope the next adapted installment lives up to the first.

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Review: ‘Divergent’ film a worthy adaptation