By: Staff Writer Grace Dong
The much awaited movie based on Veronica Roth’s popular book trilogy fails to deliver the enticing plot and interesting characters of the original. Roth’s novel brought a futuristic, dystopian society to life for readers. However, Divergent, directed by Neil Burger, carries an obvious air of cramming hundreds of pages of great novel material into a mere 140 minutes. The film revolves around the coming of age and self-discovery journey of Beatrice “Tris” Prior (Shailene Woodley) in a post-war society. The people of her city are divided by basic human virtues: Abnegation, the selfless; Erudite, the intelligent; Amity, the kind; Candor, the honest; and Dauntless, the brave. Every young adult takes an aptitude test to determine which faction they will choose to belong in for the rest of their adulthood. Tris’s results turn up inconclusive, Divergent. Tris abandons her parents’ faction, Abnegation, and finds her life in danger as she joins Dauntless, one of the factions trying to eliminate Divergents.
The movie decently follows the book’s plotline, but for avid book fans, this movie starts off at a snail’s pace. Poorly written voiceovers convey the thoughts of Tris and introduce each faction in a dreary, excessively detailed fashion. Soon after, the film speeds up as event after event zooms past until Tris is out of Abnegation and training to be in Dauntless. Major characteristics of Tris’s aptitude test and her life in Abnegation are skimmed over, failing to set the stage for how monumental her discovery of Divergency will be and the vast effect becoming Dauntless will have on her.
Tris’s relationship with her love interest, Four (Theo James) is choppy and confusing at best. The two barely interact for the majority of the film until the plot takes another fast forward. Minutes after Tris and Four get acquainted in the film, they are lip locked and “in love.” Four himself remains an enigma to the very end, as the film fails to delve into him as one of the main characters. Supporting characters are extremely neglected as well. Tris’s friends in Dauntless, Christina (Zoë Kravitz), Will (Ben Lloyd-Hughes), and Al (Christian Madsen) are barely mentioned. Their names float around a couple times, but the friendships are underdeveloped from the start and remain that way until the end.
Thankfully, the special effects in the film were commendable. There were no crazy, out of this world effects, but the action scenes and life threatening Dauntless fun were brought to life by Burger’s $78 million set. The bird’s eye view Tris has over the city as she ziplines across creates an authentic sense of vertigo. Fighting scenes are action packed and engaging. Most impressive however, were the effects created during the mental portion of Dauntless initiation, where people get inside their own heads to face their greatest fears. Scenario after scenario meld together impeccably as Burger takes viewers on an incredible tour of how the fear factor works in Tris’s mind.
Although the film presents the general plot of the book, the fast paced storyline presented in the movie can give severe whiplash to a viewer. Book fans prepare to be disappointed as the transition from novel to the big screen failed to capture what so many loved about the Roth’s book. Divergent is mildly entertaining, but don’t walk into the theatre expecting a thrilling sci-fi adventure.