Divergent disappoints fans while catering to national audiences

(arts) divergent (courtesy of lionsgate films)

Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) is like any other sixteen-year-old in post-apocalyptic Chicago—nervously awaiting the aptitude test that will place her in one of the five factions her community is divided into. Based on her personality, the test will determine if Beatrice will remain Abnegation (the selfless) or transfer to Amity (the kind), Erudite (the knowledgable), Candor (the honest) or Dauntless (the fearless). Each faction contributes to the community — Abnegation runs the government, Amity grows and raises the food supply, Erudite controls education, Candor is responsible for judicial affairs and Dauntless protects and enforces the law.

Except it’s not that simple.

The aptitude test doesn’t work on Beatrice. She’s Divergent—a person who tests well for multiple factions, which is rare and unacceptable. The test administrator, a Dauntless woman by the name of Tori who later befriends Beatrice, is quick to inform her of the danger of the situation, since Divergent is not allowed in their community. Beatrice is told to claim she’s sick and leave the testing facility.

To hide her Divergent status, Beatrice selects Dauntless at the choosing ceremony, one of the three factions she tested for, much to the disappointment of her parents (Ashley Judd and Tony Goldwyn). Her brother, Caleb (Ansel Elgort), chooses Erudite, shocking their parents and the entire Abnegation faction who are having trouble with the Erudite faction over how the government runs.

Beatrice, who has been fascinated with the Dauntless faction since she can remember, struggles to fit in with her new faction. She becomes “Tris,” shortening her name as a means of cutting away her old life. From jumping off trains and buildings to training rigorously in hand-to-hand combat and weaponry, Tris struggles and remains in low ranking. This threatens her status as a Dauntless since the lowest ranks are kicked out of the faction during their initiation.

Tris’ romantic interest comes in the form of her trainer, Four (Theo James), who is distant and self-contained. The two are initially at odds with each other; she thinks he’s heartless and he thinks she’s too weak. But, as Tris’ training continues and Four sees her determination and willingness to stand up for herself and others, he begins helping her with her training.

After a trip to the top of the ferris wheel—where Four confesses his fear of heights, which Tris finds endearing — he administers a series of mental tests much like the aptitude test he administers to her (and Four finds out she’s Divergent and him saving her life from a group of kids trying to eliminate her from training, the two quickly fall for each other, dismissing any negative idea they might have had for each other.)

The movie moves quickly after their confession to each other; Tris is constantly threatened by the Erudite leader Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet), and she and Four witness suspicious activities happening within the Dauntless and Erudite factions. Tris is constantly being reminded of how dangerous her Divergent status is.

Of course Tris, with the help of Four, is able to train herself to cheat her way through her final initiation test and officially becomes a part of Dauntless. The main conflict is hastily thrown in after Tris’s final test, and Tris and Four, who are both Divergent and able to deflect from most things, find themselves in the midst of a massacre of Abnegation led by Erudite and executed by mentally (chemically) controlled Dauntless.

Quick battle scenes, a few deaths and some confessions of love later, the Dauntless members wake up horrified and Jeanine has mysteriously escaped after Tris makes her release the Dauntless from the program they are being controlled by. Tris and her brother, Four and his father and a Dauntless named Peter (Miles Teller) ride off abroad a train heading toward the fence surrounding the city.

Adapted from Veronica Roth’s best-selling book, “Divergent,” the movie is too face paced, losing pertinent information needed in order to process the plot more smoothly. Crammed into a two and half hour movie, information gets lost, relationships develop at unrealistic paces and scenes become dry and boring as the movie rushes to get the plot across. The movie lacks character relationships because it is too plot focused neglecting to emphasize the impact on the overall story arc.

Made up of an outstanding cast, the movie is saved by Woodley and James’s chemistry, Teller’s comedic dialogue, a fantastic soundtrack and the viewer’s need to make it to the end of the film for the sake of finding out how it all ends. The movie fails to depict Tris’ fears and emotional growth, and Four comes off as an unapproachable stiff incapable of showing compassion. The results could be chalked up to the screenwriting and directional mistakes rather than the acting, which was overall better than expected.

Despite its flaws, “Divergent” is sure to satisfy most readers of the series who will be able to fill in the gaps in the movie which will save it at the box office. While it won’t reach the same critical acclaim and recognition “The Hunger Games” has, “Divergent” will fulfill your craving for yet another dystopian film.

“Divergent” is now playing in theaters across the nation.