The next in line on the “based on a book” bandwagon is the new film Divergent. This post apocalyptic science fiction thriller could potentially be very successful if it’s able to amass only a fraction of the book’s fan base to fill the already warmed seats from the multitude of films within the last year with similar influences. Every story has its challenges though, and it’s yet to be seen just how long this tidal wave of paper-driven storylines will last on the big screen. Noticeably enough, the fanfare of popular literature remains to be a guiding force in the direction of film right now, and that’s what matters. At least, in a sense, they continue to only gain popularity especially when it comes to teenage and young adult audiences.
Divergent’s story was originally published in 2011 and written by Veronica Roth. Like the book, the film, which comes out this Friday, is based in the distant future of Chicago. Society is grouped together into five separate groups each taking an important role in its continuation. Each of these five groups, Candor, Erudite, Dauntless, Amity, and Abnegation, each function on their own and in them completely envelope and mold the lives of their inductees. Candor relates to honesty and handled the laws and relies heartily on debate. Erudite seeks knowledge and are the scientists of the community. Dauntless show bravery over all else and are regarded as the soldiers. Amity is peaceful, always happy, singing songs, and farming. Last, Abnegation is selfless and serves, with no lust for power, as leaders of the community. Each group takes their faction as a part of themselves, completely molding their lives around them and treating their duties as their sole purpose in life.
The story follows a new inductee, Beatrice, who’s grown up as Abnegation. However, the society allows a choosing ceremony where at a certain age the individuals search themselves and decide permanently which faction they find themselves most belonging to. Beatrice, upon receiving the test that helps those choose, finds her answer is inconclusive which is nearly impossible. She is the exception to the rule. She is Divergent.
After reading the book a few months ago, I was already very familiar with the Divergent story. There are actually three books which tell the story of Beatrice. Divergent should be followed by Insurgent and then Allegiant if the film becomes successful. This remains to be seen, but I see no reason why it should not be. The film has all the cookie cutter characteristics to be successful. Young characters for a teenage audience, a relatively original story line, factions which the audience will inevitable associate and choose from themselves, and post apocalyptic also seems to be very “in” right now. Most movie goers are going to enjoy this film. However, be prepared to not really see anything new with this film. I found it to be entertaining but also somewhat shabby, conventional, and awkward compared to similar films.
There are certain scenes from the book that did not translate well from book to film. For example, if you read the book, you’ll notice that the word “Divergent” is somewhat of a dirty word. They use it too casually in the film. A Divergent was regarded almost as a ghost in the book, like it didn’t exist if they didn’t talk about it. Reading the story, you felt like a 6 year old and someone just dropped an F bomb in front of you when you heard it. Almost like another young adult book idea with a certain dark wizard. This creates a mysticism to Divergent, an almost superhero quality, or dare I say an acquired fear from the word like you would imagine the utopian society would feel when something disrupts their perfect beliefs. For me, this idea was lost in the film. For myself, I found it hard to imagine Beatrice who was raised in Abnegation and always served, finally finding herself climbing for the first time and somehow being able to keep up with others who were raised that way. Last, it should be no surprise that the story’s heroine chooses to associate with bravery. The Dauntless faction also had a certain charisma I didn’t feel in the film. All of these details are minor but as a whole is what drew me away from completely enjoying it.
Ultimately, it will be interesting to see how Divergent fairs. It does have a lot of good qualities. A good cast, great music, and a connectable storyline can carry a film. Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t amazed but it wouldn’t keep me from watching it again. If you’re a fan of these things why wouldn’t you see this film? Fair warning: Divergent is the best book. Hopefully the movies go the other directions and only get better.
I give Divergent 3 “This isn’t real.” out of 5.
(I would disagree with Jason. I liked the second book, Insurgent, more than Divergent, but I have not read the third. –Sarah)
by Jason Burleson
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