Rated PG-13, 139 minutes (watched 3/22/14)
The latest in the young adult dystopian adventure genre is Divergent. It’s just OK. It’s not actively terrible, but it’s a long, long way from being good and pales in comparison to its obvious inspiration, The Hunger Games. There’s not much soul here. It’s beautifully shot, but the whole shebang is very superficial. It’s not just Hunger Games Lite, this is Fun Size Gluten-free Paleo Hunger Games with an extra plate to share with your significant other.
I won’t go to much into the plot, but in the future, mankind (or at least the city-state of Chicago?) is divided into five very distinct and separate factions. While you’re allowed to switch from the faction of your birth, it’s a big fat hairy deal if you have a hard time choosing just one and happen to be a good fit for two or three. This dreaded condition is what’s known as being “divergent.” I haven’t a clue why this is a problem, but evidently associating with more than just your circle of buddies has the potential to bring down civilization. No, wait. That’s OK, but only if you’re 100 percent sure of it? It’s all complicated. I think it’s supposed to be a metaphor for high school. Or something. That whole backstory thing is very muddy.
Shailene Woodley is in it, and I’m told she’s an amazing actress. That may be true, but there’s zero material for her here. (The Hunger Games‘ Katniss Everdeen isn’t the most complex character out there, but Jennifer Lawrence shows that the right actress can elevate the role.) Ms. Woodley plays Tris, a young woman who can kind of “see the Matrix” while others simply play video games. Her love interest is a tattooed stud named “Four” (of course, because normal names have been lost in the future) played by Theo James and he’s very… stoic. Kate Winslet plays a blue pants-suited Hillary Clinton look-alike. i wondered where Bill is.
In all fairness, I should point at that at least Divergent does not have vampires. But, there are two more books in the series (which means there will be at least seven more movies in the series), so there is still plenty of time for the vampires to show up.
All that’s wonderful, but what’s the movie’s grade? I’m in a hurry here, buddy.
Where do I know that guy from?
Ashley Judd plays Tris’s mom and she’s been in any number of movies. If you’re having trouble recognizing her, it’s because she’s has some serious plastic surgery. It’s sad. I would never reduce a woman to her physical appearance but unless you’ve been in a horribly disfiguring car accident, please don’t get elective plastic surgery simply to look “more beautiful.” Nine times out of ten, it has the reverse of the intended effect. Beauty is not the end all be all, but if it concerns you, let me assure you that you ARE beautiful on your own.
What is the star’s spirit animal?
I’m having a hard time think of an appropriate spirit animal, but Tris has a tattoo of a small flock of birds so we’ll go with that. Her spirit animal is a bird. How exciting!
What color socks are you wearing right now?
Grey with purple polka dots. No, I’m not kidding.
YES, the main cast members DO INDEED ride a zip line. I hope your fears have been relieved!
She thinks she enjoyed it, but can’t honestly remember. It was OK for an adaptation. 3/5, though she noticed they added to the book quite a bit.
Heard any good jokes lately?
Why does Michael J. Fox make the best milkshakes?
Because he uses only the finest ingredients.
(Shame on you for thinking otherwise!)
Unrelated Word of the Day:
Yooper YOO-pernoun: a native or resident of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan — used as a nickname
Would the movie have been any better with the addition of Morgan Freeman as narrator?
Yeah, he probably could have given the whole thing a little more gravitas and nuance, ’cause Lord knows it lacked both.