Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Divergent - Review

In post-apocalypse Chicago, the walled-off city maintains a faction-based society based upon emotions, personal attributes, and true purpose of oneself. Trust me, I don't understand the logic either, so you best let the stupidity walk on through. Anyway, lowly teen Beatrice (Shailene Woodley) reaches the age of 16, which means she is worthy to test for her future faction, only to be shocked when the test results reveal her to be "divergent", possessing skills from every faction. Since everyone sees the label as a menace to civilization (how exactly is never answered), she instead publicly states her allegiance to Dauntless, a bunch of black jacket-wearing parkour experts who serve as the city police. DIVERGENT is a surprising satisfactory young adult adaptation, in a large sea ridden with broken would-be franchises, that all dared to match the might of THE HUNGER GAMES. The acting is all-around solid, the action sequences are well developed, and director Neil Burger makes great use of mind-bending visuals and surreal horror. All of that goodwill being said, the film does has some questionable errors of judgment, the biggest of course being the sloppy story. The majority of the 139 minute run time is devoted strictly to Act Two, where Beatrice (short-named "Tris") has to pass the training phase in order to really be part of the clan, or else be kicked out and become one of the "Factionless". No tension in how it all turns out but because so much time is given to the orientation, the last act is totally rushed out. The finale has big plot turns, vicious exploitation, sentiments that change on a dime, and sequel bait, all crammed into a scant twenty minutes. It's a painfully shoddy conclusion, riddled with bad plot holes, a lame cliffhanger, and the sheer fact that the characters have to leave the evil genius alive, solely so future conflict and more deaths can happen. The other big stink about the picture involves Woodley: She fits the character and is always good when it came time to cry, but she is never really a believable threat or a capable action lead. Nonetheless, I'll gladly take a scene featuring her awkward fighting prowess than see any more of her unlawful courtship with an instructor, which becomes full-blown statutory rape in a false exercise. Queasiness aside, the movie is an okay engagement.


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