It's the conundrum so many of these types of books face as they become pop-culture juggernauts and film franchises: which elements to keep to please the fervent fans and which to toss in the name of maintaining a lean, speedy narrative? The "Harry potter" and "Hunger Games" movies—which "divergent" resembles in myriad ways—were mostly successful in finding that balance. Advertisement, in bringing the first novel of Veronica roth's best-selling trilogy to the screen, director. Neil Burger limitless and screenwriters, evan daugherty and, vanessa taylor have included key moments and images but tweaked others to streamline the mythology and move the story along. The results can be thrilling but the film as a whole feels simultaneously overlong and emotionally truncated. Folks who've read the book will probably be satisfied with the results, while those unfamiliar with the source material may dismiss it as derivative and inferior. (Stop me if you think you've heard this one before: "divergent" takes place in a rigidly structured, dystopian future where one extraordinary girl will serve either as its destroyer or its savior.) But the performances—namely from stars.
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If the care is not expended to make the audience care, those grand moments into which all the care was expended will inevitably devolve into at best familiar, and at worst very silly melodrama—which is the unfortunate fate. Divergent, at whose screening titters could be heard during what should have been harrowing moments. That being said, Theo james is very attractive, tris has great hair, and Ellie goulding occupies a place of honor on the soundtrack. The tween-girl demographic that. Divergent clearly hopes to attract should be entertained by most of the film, though its two-hour-plus runtime will likely wear on viewers of any age. Above and beyond the current. Hunger Games vogue for dystopian actioners starring intrepid girls, there is a lot of cinematic potential inherent. Heres hoping the already scheduled sequel. Insurgent picks up the ball dropped by this first attempt). "divergent" is all about identity—about searching your soul and determining who you are and how you fit in as you emerge from adolescence to adulthood. So it's all too appropriate that the film version of the wildly popular young adult novel struggles a bit to assert itself as it seeks essays to appeal to the widest possible audience.
After the initial, quickly paced opening scenes, the film devotes itself to hitting the biggest (which does not always translate to the most important) points of the novel, one after the other, and not much else. The characters, Tris and four among them, are painted in broad strokes with the minimal amount of shading required to keep them ambulatory. The simplification of every major personality in a story whose moral heft is contingent upon an analysis of human nature is perhaps why. Divergent fails to work onscreen. It certainly makes sense, when they had an 80 million budget with which you to work and the hopes of a studio gunning for another lucrative. Hunger Game s franchise at their back, for the filmmakers to almost exclusively depict the splashiest moments of their source material. By forsaking the nuances of character, however, those same scenes that seemed so ripe for cinematic interpretation quickly lose their potency and, paradoxically, their cinematic quality. The latter is predicated upon emotion (no matter how many effects-heavy vehicles Hollywood churns out in an effort to seemingly prove the contrary and when viewers dont care about the person theyre watching, they wont gasp when she faces her worst fears, they wont shiver.
To protect beatrice, tori manually enters Abnegation on her test results. The day of the Choosing Ceremony arrives and, both shaken and perhaps bolstered by her brothers surprise decision to transfer to the Erudite faction, beatrice chooses the loud, brash, tattooed, dyed-hair dauntless. Divergent takes place during dauntless initiation: Upon arriving at the dauntless compound, and after having to perform a few typical dauntless stunts (lots of risking of life and limb involved) to get there, the 16-year-olds are told they will have to pass a series. Oh, and there will be cuts after each round. This is not good news for beatrice, who has already renamed herself the more badass-sounding Tris in a kind of fake-it-til-you-make-it gesture, as she is among the weakest of her initiation class. Her peers include the pixie-like and overly frank candor-transfer Christina (zoe kravitz the know-it-all former Erudite will (Ben Lloyd-Hughes the big, kind, slow, ex-Candor Al (Christian Madsen and another former Erudite, peter (Miles Teller, hilarious who, in no time at all, has established himself. Theyre led through initiation by pierced and possibly psychotic Eric (jai courtney) and the hunky, reserved and therefore irresistible four. Between forging new friendships, suffering Peters taunts, developing feelings for four, struggling to make it through initiation, keeping her inconclusive test results hidden, and trying to work plan out just why the menacing Erudite leader, jeanine (Kate winslet, in a role much expanded surgery from the novel. All of which should make for compelling viewing, but doesnt.
Abandoned skyscrapers that are at once towering and crumbling, and the rumbling outdoor trains, off of and onto which the dauntless jump while the trains are in motion, should please fans of the book and likewise appeal to the uninitiated. Like all 16-year-olds, beatrice (as Tris is known when the film opens) and her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) must take an aptitude test whose results are designed to tell them which faction best suits them. Although children are raised in the faction of their parents, they can switch once theyre of age, and do not necessarily need to choose the faction suggested by their aptitude test results, either. The choice is left up to each individual, though once she selects a faction, theres no going back—the only alternative is to live factionless. Beatrice was raised Abnegation, but questions whether she isnt too selfish for a life of self-denial. She hopes the aptitude test will resolve her indecision. But, strangely, even dangerously, as beatrices test administrator makes clear, her results are inconclusive. The test didnt work on you, the administrator, tori (Maggie q hisses, before instructing beatrice not to tell anyone.
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I can imagine what hes doing at any given moment, even when hes not with Tris. Unfortunately, this same sense of dynamism cannot be attributed to the film four (Theo james or Tris (Shailene woodley, gamely doing her best with not so much or any of the characters populating the new lionsgate adaptation of Roths book. Divergent the movie includes just about every wham-bam moment of the novel, hitting set-piece cues like actors to their marks. This is no mean feat, considering the book is nearly 500 pages long. Screenwriters evan daugherty (. Snow White and the huntsman ) and Vanessa taylor (Game of Thrones, Alias) should be acknowledged for their often clever restructuring of the narrative, the logical manner in which vikings they were able to knit together scenes that did not originally follow one another. But in their haste to cram every big and (seemingly) cinematic moment into an overlong 140 minutes, integral moments of character development necessarily fell by the wayside.
Consequently, those same events that elicited thrills in the novel, and probably read like gold on the scripts paper, fall terribly, even comically, flat onscreen. Theres a lot of background, terminology and context to get through before the story can begin proper, and Tris voiceover explanation of her societys structure, in which people are divided into one of five factions—the intelligent Erudite, the kind Amity, the honest Candor, the courageous. (What happens if your personality does not neatly align with one of the five groups? You live factionless, or homeless and very dirty.) Director. Neil Burger has created a world that certainly looks like the one painted by roth in her novel.
In general, though, the postwar cityscape feels generic, captured in straightforward widescreen images by cinematographer Alwin Kuchler, who created a far more affecting sense of dystopian malaise in the underappreciated Code. The score by junkie xl ( Hans Zimmer is credited as executive score producer) is rousing when appropriate and mostly unobtrusive, unlike the tone-deaf use of indie-pop and techno tracks at key points in the action ( Randall Poster is the music supervisor). Woodley, a sensitive performer, is hamstrung by the screenplay but lends her role relatability and a convincing athleticism. Burger and Kuchlers unfortunate preference for mascara-ad close-ups, however, detracts from the characters grit. In the hands of Burger, whose credits include The Illusionist and Limitless, the storys elements of spectacle, decay, symbolism and struggle only rarely feel fully alive.
Lackluster direction in the early installments of other ya franchises hasnt slowed their momentum, though. Divergent will be no exception. Opens: Friday, march 21 (Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment) Production: Red Wagon Entertainment Cast: Shailene woodley, theo james, Ashley judd, jai courtney, ray stevenson, zoë kravitz, miles Teller, tony goldwyn, Ansel Elgort, maggie q, mekhi Phifer, kate winslet Director: neil Burger Screenwriters: evan daugherty, vanessa taylor Based. Kelly, rachel Shane director of photography: Alwin Kuchler Production designer: Andy nicholson Music: Junkie xl executive score producer: Hans Zimmer co-producer: Veronica roth Costume designer: Carlo poggioli Editors: Richard Francis-Bruce, nancy richardson pg-13; 139 minutes. Just as you suspected: It's no 'hunger Games.'. Mar 20, 2014, reviews, the latest edition of the novel on which. Divergent is based includes a q a with author Veronica roth. Roth, who wrote her young-adult bestseller while she was a 21-year-old undergraduate studying psychology, admits to having a favorite among her characters: four, or protagonist Tris love interest. To me, he seems to have a rich off-screen life.
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Underworld: Awakening ) takes an interest in Tris and her survival, mitigating the merciless demands of leader Eric (. Predictably, things steam up: four shows Tris his tattoo and, in an act of real intimacy, invites her into his chemically produced nightmare, the better to prepare her for the final hurdle in her training: a fear test thats an obvious variation on room 101. Photos: Exclusive portraits of Shailene woodley. In small roles, some of which will probably take on greater weight in the next film, mekhi Phifer and, ray stevenson play faction leaders, and zoe kravitz and Miles Teller are two initiates from Candor (faction of the truth tellers). Kate winslet shows up in icy-blonde mode as jeanine, a ferocious proponent of the brave new worlds social engineering and leader of the Erudite, the brainy faction thats waging a campaign to discredit the ruling Abnegation. (The peaceful Amity faction barely registers in the film.) A conversation between jeanine and Tris offers a few moments of refreshingly sublimated hostility. Otherwise, such high-wire tension is mia as nearly every exchange hits the nail squarely on the head (echoing the plain prose hotel of the book). Carlo poggioli brings a utilitarian expressiveness to the color-coded faction outfits, while nicholsons sets excel at industrial grunge; Chicagos navy pier and its Ferris wheel make for a vivid abandoned amusement park.
Jumping from a moving train — the dauntless way of synonym arriving, and one of the films best sequences — she gets to experience the kinetic physicality long denied her. (The rusted-out but still functioning elevated trains are a standout component. Andy nicholson s production design. but soon after beatrice joins the dauntless, and redubs herself Tris, she finds that train jumping, building scaling and other wild behavior isnt the choice of free spirits but the requirement of soldiers in training. The subterranean Pit that serves as dauntless hq is a bleak place, devoid of humor or brightness — as is the movie. Tris martial indoctrination takes up much of the first hour, putting her in a number of punishing mano-a-mano bouts with other initiates. Those who dont prove their mettle will end up among the factionless, outcasts subsisting on the streets of a city where you can never go home again. Instructor four (a commanding, theo james,.
on setting up the Prior family dynamics, lessening the emotional impact of the ceremony in which both beatrice and her brother, caleb (. Ansel Elgort opt to transfer out of Abnegation, the faction of the selfless. Beatrice has never felt as naturally charitable as her parents (. Ashley judd and, tony goldwyn and her face lights up whenever she sees the dauntless, the brave ones who snarl and rollick like a bunch of punk rockers; theyre as boisterous and defiant as the members of Abnegation are low-key and self-effacing. Photos: Shailene woodley's Career in Pictures. Beatrices first moments with her new tribe bear out the sense of thrills and danger she observed from a distance.
Neil Burger struggles to fuse philosophy, awkward romance and brutal action. Shailene woodley delivering the requisite toughness and magnetism, the clunky result is almost unrelentingly grim. Dystopia can be presented in dynamic ways, but this iteration of it is, above all, no picnic for the audience. Thr cover: Is 'divergent' Star Shailene woodley the next Jennifer Lawrence? Lukewarm reviews might squelch curiosity among those unfamiliar with the trilogy of books, but the must-see factor among fans will ensure a robust opening for Summit, which has two sequels in the works and the next installment, Insurgent, fast-tracked for early-2015 release. Like most social science fiction, the story, set in a war-ravaged Chicago in an unspecified future, is propelled by the friction between freethinkers and an authoritarian slogan regime. Protagonist beatrice Prior (Woodley) faces particular jeopardy because shes a rare and dangerous bird: a so-called divergent, who doesnt fit neatly into one of the prescribed categories that control every aspect of life. Like the source material, the film begins on the eve of the Choosing Ceremony, as 16-year-old beatrice submits to the aptitude test — a personality quiz via drug-induced hallucination — that will tell her which faction suits her best. The inconclusive results alarm her tester (a well-cast.
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Shailene woodley and Theo james topline the first of three features based on novelist Veronica roths postapocalyptic trilogy. Dystopia is no resumes picnic for most everyone involved, but in the future world. Divergent, its especially hard on teens. At the heart. Veronica roth s ya bestseller is a provocative existential dilemma involving adolescence and identity: At age 16, everyone must choose which of societys stringently defined factions theyll join. That could mean staying on home turf or leaving family far behind, and its an irreversible decision. In an era when youre never too young to not just choose a career but to launch one, its an idea with particular resonance. Its also an idea that loses much of its potency in the movie adaptation, as director.