Diverging from the Norm




Neil Burger

4/4 stars


Lately, books set in dystopian or utopian societies promoting rebellion against the government are all too cliché. The select few that have made it to theaters (“Hunger Games,” “Ender’s Game”), though, were top grossing in the box office. Neil Burger’s “Divergent” might just give them a run for their money.

Adapted from the novel written by Veronica Roth and published on Feb. 28, 2012, “Divergent,” is set in dystopian Chicago. An imaginary, dehumanizing society is divided into five factions centered around a specific virtue: Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless and Erudite. At the age of 16, children have the option of choosing a new faction after taking a simulation test, which tells them which faction they belong in.

Here’s the rub: a select few “Divergents” defy the status quo. Instead of falling into just one faction, they are a combination of several.

I’ll be honest; I walked into this movie expecting the worst. I loved the book, so when they announced the cast, I was a little disappointed. Shailene Woodley didn’t fit the physical description of Tris well enough, and Theo James was slightly too old (29 years as opposed to 18) to play Four. With Bella and Edward’s codependent relationship from “Twilight” in the back of my mind, I was also concerned the producers would fabricate a similar relationship between Tris and Four.

My doubts and assumptions were immediately proven wrong. Their relationship was not, in fact, codependent, but instead brilliantly conveyed as two independent people who decided to work together to resist oppression. From start to finish, “Divergent” roared with action and constantly had me thinking on my feet. And for lovers of the original book, the movie covers almost all of the key scenes brilliantly.

With its fast-paced scenes, “Divergent” grew a little frustrating as we had our hearts broken only to be forced immediately to move on to the next event . But then again, Tris suffered this too, and she’s the one fighting the war as a Divergent.

The character Four had some witty dialogue, and the numerous times the theater erupted into bouts of laughter indicated that James succeeded in playing his part.

This movie impressively conveyed the theme of oppression, all the while thoroughly captivating the audience with the skill of superb directors and actors.

In comparison to other movies, “Divergent” hits all the marks of an exceptional action movie. After all, “Divergent” is the title. What good is a movie if  there’s nothing different about it?

 – Erin Thomas