Review: ‘Divergent’ stays true for fans of book

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Continuing the recent rash of popular teen books being adapted into film, Veronica Roth’s Divergent hit theaters March 21. Different from The Hunger Games, Divergent does not feature as much brutal murder of peers (though there is a maiming scene in the book), and it lacks a love triangle. But don’t worry–there is plenty of romance and suspenseful violence. I personally felt that it was a much better film adaptation than Hunger Games was, but both are interesting movies on their own.

Divergent is about a post-apocalyptic dystopian Chicago where citizens are sorted into five factions: Abnegation for the selfless; Amity for the peaceful; Candor for the honest; Dauntless for the brave; and Erudite for the intelligent. The story begins when protagonist Beatrice “Tris”  Prior (Shailene Woodley) goes to take her aptitude test, and it comes up as inconclusive, making her a Divergent. Divergents are rare in this society, and some consider them dangerous because they can fit in several of the factions, instead of just one. After joining Dauntless, Tris has to balance a rigorous initiation program, worry for her safety as a hidden divergent and an exciting new love interest with her initiation instructor Four (Theo James).

The movie itself achieved what it set out to do. It was a good balance of plot and action, keeping the viewer on edge throughout. It had dry, deadpan one-liners between characters that were hilarious, which were nice to help lessen the tension during some of the more dramatic scenes. The action was well done and believable, with the only drawback being the small amount of “shaking-camera” action filming that I personally detest, but hey, to each their own. The plot itself was easy to follow even if you hadn’t read the book (or so I am assured), and it captures your interest early on, with a little bit of something for everyone, making it a good movie to see with a group.

Shailene Woodley, who has starred in the hit TV drama The Secret Life of an American Teenager and the film The Fault in Our Stars, did a fantastic job portraying Tris, both in the action scenes and in the emotional ones. Her excellent emotional acting helped get across the characterization of Tris that is found in the book that makes her a more in depth character.

Theo James, star of the TV show Golden Boy and a guest actor on Downtown Abbey, made a good Four, especially considering how little of Four’s characterization was in the movie. The character Four does not actually get much development until later in the book  series, but James did a good job of making him seem like more than just a G.I. Joe doll there to draw in more teenage girls.

The only major grievance for fans of the book is there is not enough attention paid to the Dauntless-born initiates; in truth the only one that really has any roll is Peter (Miles Teller), who comes across as much less cruel than what we see in the book. Uriah is the most missed, with only a short allusion to him in the zip-line scene and his name on the initiate ranking board, but producers say that he will be featured in Insurgent (Divergent’s sequel) and that they are simply waiting for the right actor to portray him.

Overall, I was very pleased with how the movie turned out, despite early reservations about how well the story would transfer onto the big screen. Book fans will be happy with how well the movie stayed true to the original plot line, while those just looking for a good movie will be entertained by the great action sequences and a shirtless Theo James.

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