Sunday, April 13, 2014

Movie Review ... Divergent


hr_Divergent_27When is ‘The Hunger Games’ not ‘The Hunger Games? When it’s ‘Divergent’ based on Veronica Roth’s books.  Sharing many similarities the film adaptation conjures feelings of déjà vu. That isn’t to say it’s bad though – just a generic American film aiming to become a money-spinning franchise.  Many have been released over the years with few lasting the distance.  ‘Divergent’ gamely tries its best to differentiate itself although the shadow of previous failed franchises looms large.

In a post-apocalyptic future, Chicago is struggling to survive.  To maintain some sense of order people are placed in groups according to their abilities.  Discovering she has a multitude of forbidden talents, Beatrice (Shailene Woodley) realises she doesn’t belong in any.  Dubbed a ‘divergent’, she unearths a deadly plot spear-headed by totalitarian leader Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet).  With the help of fellow divergent Tobias (Theo James), Beatrice tries to save what’s left of her crumbling world.

An aim of a new franchise is to establish its mythology.  ‘Divergent’ reasonably does this despite its formulaic predictability.  Directed by Neil Burger, its successful moments are when it adheres to its central theme of discarding conformity.  When it focuses the many action sequences it loses some power as they aren’t anything we haven’t seen elsewhere.  ‘Divergent’ never feels like its own movie – just a first chapter in a potentially enduring series.

Winslet has the most fun amongst the performers with her wickedly icy maiden.  She out-shines her main stars who exhibit little chemistry.  It is difficult being engaged in the story due to Woodley’s and James’ somewhat lifeless performances.  Their listless rendition of the dialogue highlights the plot’s deficiencies and over-padding.  They’re fine in the battle scenes which are well-staged even if they elicit miniscule tension.

‘Divergent’ is a case of style over substance.  Whilst it has some depth, it fails to differentiate itself from similar film series.  Its’ by-the-numbers nature may appeal to undemanding viewers while others are advised to find seek films that don’t ride on another’s coat-tails.


Movie Review Rating out of 10:  5

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

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