Let the record show that I was not a fan of the book. I thought it was drab, boring and operated on a flimsy premise. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I walked out of the theatre, shrugging to myself and thinking “Hey, that wasn’t so bad.”
The film is set in a future, dystopian Chicago. When kids turn 16, they undergo a test that would sort them into five factions: Abegnation, Dauntless, Erudite, Amity and Candor. Beatrice ‘Tris’ Prior is unsure of her future, as she’s torn between these choices – stay with her parents in Abegnation… or choose something else to find herself? On testing day, her results come back inconclusive, which can only mean one thing: she’s a Divergent, meaning she doesn’t fit into any one faction. In an attempt to save herself from the Divergent witch hunt, she joins Dauntless, where she meets Four – a mysterious, dark and brooding leader that knows more than he lets on.
I went in, armed with my prejudice against the novel, and a 41% Rotten Tomatoes rating gnawing at the back of my mind. I was actually kind of happy I didn’t hate it as much as I thought I would.
So I decided to compile a list of things I thought I would’ve hated, but I didn’t end up hating them… kind of:
1. Shailene Woodley
One of the worst things about YA novels these days is the heroine. The dark-haired heroine who has a mind of her own, goes against the grain of society, has a dry and sarcastic sense of humor that somehow appeals to no one except for the sexy male character that falls desperately in love with her. Does that sound familiar? Yeah, probably, because that describes about half of the female teen population in North America. It probably describes YOU. It’s one of the reasons why these movies/books sell like hotdogs (hotcakes?), because the target audience sympathizes with the main character, and can easily insert themselves into the story. It’s also why a lot of these movies/books seem repetitive and relatively boring.
Though I must say, Shailene Woodley is quite talented. The script itself was rather bland, and I’m pretty sure if you added up everything she said out loud, it wouldn’t break 200 words. Shailene managed to take a script that might’ve been written by an 18 year old girl and made it hers. Whether it was a prolonged stare, tears pooled at the corner of her eye, her average build and average looks – there was something about her that just made me feel like… she could be me. And I could be her.
I hate to admit that I’m a victim of a Mary Sue-ish film, but damnit all, I sympathize with her.
2. The Premise
If you guys read my last Divergent post, it’s basically just the rant of a furious crazy lady who did not like what she was reading. I hated the premise. Mostly because I thought it was just plain stupid. Allow to me to reiterate, “The entire book stems on the flimsy (and completely retarded) belief that a human being is defined by ONE, SINGLE trait and must live their life accordingly to that trait. The five traits being: bravery, wisdom, honesty, peacefulness, and selflessness. Admirable traits, no doubt, but you can probably see why that’s a problem. Any person with – oh, I don’t know – a multidimensional personality is immediately branded as the spawn of the devil.” Now keep in mind, I couldn’t get past the first couple of chapters of the book, so maybe I’m just talking out of my ass.
While I still think this is stupid – I personally just can’t suspend my disbelief that any one person can only embody one trait at any given time – the film did a much better job convincing me that this could be an actual thing.
3. The Writing
Yes, there is still an abundance of terrible dialogue – one that comes to mind is, “I’m not Dauntless… I’m a Divergent” /CUE EYE ROLLING – but for the most part, it was average.
4. The Romance
I’m just gonna come right out and say it. Twilight ruined YA romances for me. The idea of a girl falling so madly in love with some dangerous supernatural being/pedophile that she doesn’t even consider that there might possibly be more than one viable man in the entire world is just the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of. I can see why teenage loins burn for a romance like that, because most of them have never experienced a romance IN GENERAL. EVER. BEFORE.
So my hatred for Twilight has now turned me into a bitter old hag that refuses to believe in the idea of teenage love. HOWEVER, the progression of Tris’ and Four’s love in the film was actually rather believable. Yes, there were some gratuitous teen romance cliches scattered here and there, but for the most part, I can see why the two characters are dependent on each other for survival. It was kind of sweet.
While I think it deserved a higher rating that 41%, I wouldn’t go any higher than 60%. It’s a solid film, though rather shaky in some parts. Yes, I did do some cringing and eye rolling, but keep in mind I am a fully fledged adult (kind of), so maybe some of these things won’t appeal to me as much as it would to a younger woman. I can definitely see how some people may love it, but some people may hate it. I, for the most part, thought it was decent. If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, I would still suggest Muppets Most Wanted. But if you’ve already seen that and you have nothing to watch, then Divergent won’t be too bad of a choice.