It’s hard to talk about this without bringing The Hunger Games into the equation. Divergent is a diluted version of the aforementioned crossed with Twilight’s obsession with topless men and shitty writing.
In future-Chicago, the world has adopted a social system wherein people are forced to choose a ‘faction’. This is based on either the results of a test administered to them, or a personal choice. One you choose you can’t go back, and if you fail in your choice you end up ‘factionless’ i.e. homeless.
Sometimes the Sorting Hat can’t decide where to put people because they are too unique and won’t conform. Typical bloody teenagers. Those people are called ‘Divergent’. Guess what? Our heroine Tris is divergent.
I can’t be the first to make this point, but it’s somewhat ironic that a film called Divergent follows such a rigid template designed to bait teenagers into going to watch the second movie. It’s the opposite of unique.
There’s a fundamental issue with the whole premise. The factions are far too silly for us to believe people would actually create them. There’s one for ‘people who only ever tell the truth’. Another for ‘people who are really nice’. Also, what kind of dystopia lets you choose? A crap one.
There’s something to be said for the production value of the film. It looks good. The special effects aren’t bad and the set is well put together, giving us a very clear picture of what the situation is without having to explain every little detail.
However when it comes to actually building a plot within that framework, Divergent repeats itself a lot. Most of the film comprises of ‘training exercises’ which I suppose are a way to build character, but they are needlessly long. What ever happened to the good old montage?
Shailene Woodley is a strong lead but she really doesn’t get much to play with. Her character Tris is supposed to be unique, yet like the film itself she’s bland. Nothing more than fluke separates her from her peers.
Divergent is not a good way to start a franchise. It’s a boring cookie-cutter story built on a laughable premise.