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Review: “Divergent” will impress fans of the book

22 March 2014 By Ashley Beall, Assistant Video Producer No Comments

Veronica Roth created a unique, dystopian society in her novel “Divergent.” Chicago is now separated into five different factions, each of which promotes certain core values – such as honesty or intelligence.

At 16 years old, everybody takes a test to see where they belong in this society, and afterward can choose which faction they would like to be a member of. With the crazy popularity of book-to-movie adaptations, it’s no surprise that “Divergent” got a blockbuster of its own. In case you haven’t read the books, the film begins with a clichéd voice-over, mapping out the exposition for the film.

With such a complicated societal system, it’s definitely necessary, but not my favorite movie trope to begin the film trilogy. I loved the books so much, so my expectations were not high before the screening, and that beginning gave me low hopes for the rest of the film.

But once protagonist Tris Prior, played by the underrated Shailene Woodley, takes her “Aptitude test,” the film really starts to pick up, and it never slows down.

She faces many obstacles on her way to becoming Dauntless, one of the five factions, and hiding her true identity, but Tris is not a passive player in any of the action, and that’s what makes this so dynamic.

Her on-screen chemistry with Four, played by Theo James, doesn’t feel forced. And James’ portrayal of a stoic, unapproachable love interest has depth and a few comic relief moments.

He plays silent well. It’s a relief to see an adaptation with a heroine who, not only has agency over her own actions, but isn’t caught up in a love triangle.

Kate Winslet plays main antagonist Jeanine Matthews, leader of the faction of Erudite. She, with the help of some Macklemore look-alike Dauntless leaders, cause trouble for the city in the form of a brainwashed killer army. It’s up to the Divergent to save the day.

“Divergent” follows the plot of the book well, keeping in important moments which fans will embrace, as well as changing some of the story for well-needed cinematic effect. And if you’re new to the books, it catches you up so you aren’t lost.

It’s a great start to the movie trilogy, and I’m looking forward to the sequel, but not to the inevitable split of the final book installment into two films.

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