It’s always said that the book is better than the movie, but as one that didn’t get a chance to read the Divergent series before watching the flick on the big screen, I have to say I don’t have any regrets at all.
“Divergent,” starring Shailene Woodley as Tris/Beatrice and Theo James as Four/Tobias, is an action-packed, fast-paced movie with a twist of romance and the difficulties of cutting family ties. In a dystopia post-war Chicago, the government constructed a large wall and divided the population into five factions based on the virtues of the person: Abnegation, the selfless who are trusted to run the government, Candor, the honest, Erudite, the intelligent who work in the scientific field, Amity, the peaceful who work the land to provide food for the city, and Dauntless, the brave, fearless warriors and protectors of the city.
When one turns 16 they are sent to take a test that tells them where they belong within the factions. Although most people test into the faction they were born to, the person still gets to make the choice whether to go with their test result or their heart. When Beatrice finds out her test result was inconclusive her test administrator hurries her out of the exam room and manually inserts her result as Abnegation before authorities are alerted. Realizing Beatrice won’t leave without knowing why her test results came out the way they did, the examiner tells her that every once in a while a person is born who does not fall into a faction, they are called divergent. Although extremely rare, they threaten the system and are eliminated if discovered.
Beatrice goes home, but come choosing day she is troubled on what to choose- stay in Abnegation where she never really felt like she belonged but be with her family, or follow her heart and switch factions. Beatrice chooses to switch into Dauntless. Being the only one of the new recruits from Abnegation, that the rest of the city nicknames “stiffs,” she is determined to prove she belongs by always being the first to volunteer and changes her name to Tris. Her and the other new recruits are put to the test to prove themselves. At the end of testing the lowest scoring recruits are marked to be kicked out and deemed “factionless,” or the homeless whose food only comes from the selflessness of Abnegation when available.
Tris gets to a rough start being that she is weak in body, but not in mind. She practices harder than anyone else and challenges the authority of her superiors, one being Four, who has become interested in her tough personality. He takes her under his wing and teaches her how to fight the right way, helping her get above the factionless cut-off line. On the last stage of testing the new recruits are to drink a serum that will show the examiner their fears and how they would deal with them in real life. Tris, with Four as her examiner, understands that she is being tested, reminding herself over and over again “this is not real,” and finishes the test in record time. Four, suspicious of how she finished the test so fast, has caught onto her being a divergent. Tris is faced with another choice- deny and possibly live or come clean and suffer the consequences.
Later on down the road Tris reveals to Four what he already knew, that she’s a divergent. Four, being one too, teaches her how to fit into their faction and pass the final test that the Dauntless and Erudite leaders will be observing. Their relationship develops and they become inseparable. But there’s trouble within the government.
Erudite thinks Abnegation is unfit to run the city and is fighting them for power. They develop a mind-controlling serum they inject into the whole Dauntless faction, making them zombie warriors with the mission to invade Abnegation and exterminate them. Being divergent, the serum doesn’t work on Four and Tris, and they plot how to get to the Erudite command center in a protected part of the Dauntless faction and shut the whole system down. But first, Tris needs to save her Mom and Dad from the executions.
“Divergent” has been regarded as a Frankenstein mash-up of other movies, however I personally feel it’s in a classification of its own. The movie has been criticized for its similarities to the Hunger Games series as there is a division of people and issues with the government. To me the differences definitely outweigh the similarities, such as the plot, romance, and there being a sort of civil war in “Divergent” while “Hunger Games” has an over-controlling government.
The filming of “Divergent” is much cleaner and professionally shot than “Hunger Games,” without the shakiness of the camera that had many upset, dizzy, or feeling sick when watching it in theaters. Although there have been complaints about the casting of the leads, as there always are with book adaptations, Woodley and James did a phenomenal job. The acting is much more believable and flows undeniably better than its teen-raged predecessor “Hunger Games.”
“Divergent” definitely had me on an emotional rollercoaster- crying, squealing, screaming at the screen, and squeezing my friends on either side. It’s a movie you must have the full cinematic experience with, or you’ll regret it. I strongly recommend you watch this in theaters while it’s still available.
As for comparing to the book, there’s always the complaints and the praise. I’ve heard it’s pretty similar, only a few minor things, but I have nothing negative to say at all. As a movie-buff, I greatly admire the impeccable acting, special effects, set and costume design, and screenwriting. It’s an A+, five out of five stars, two-thumbs up movie for me that is bound to become a cult classic faster than “Twilight” and “Hunger Games” combined. I will definitely be adding the DVD to my collection when it comes out and to my list of all-time favorites. Watch it and you will too.