Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Divergent (2014) Review:

Being in a futuristic eutopic society is not all it's cracked up to be. Throughout film, there have been plenty of movies that take place in the future where Earth has become a robotic like eutopic society. People must follow certain guidelines to maintain stable tranquility. Of course, because the main inhabitance are human, one individual is bound to think differently from the rest, thus making them different and a possible "threat" to everyone else. It's one of those self-discovery stories where the main protagonist must figure out for himself or herself where they belong among everyone else. This is what happens to a young girl named Beatrice.

Shailene Woodley (far right)
To know one's place in the world she lives in, citizens take a mental aptitude test which then they have the choice themselves to follow through on their test result or choose their own. Among these groups to choose, there's Factionless (poor), Abnegation (the givers), Candor (truthful), Amity (friendly), Dauntless (fearless), Erudite (the brains). Tris, as Beatrice will call herself later, chooses Dauntless not only because it fit her better than Abnegation of which she originated, but also because she discovered she was Divergent through the mental test. According to the world she lives in, Divergent individuals are being hunted due to how unpredictable they are. It is at this point Tris must learn how to keep herself under the radar.

This story is very character based. Audiences are introduced to a slew new people along the way and surprisingly it’s easy to follow. Plus, the actors play their roles with the right amount of charm to feel a connection to each of them, including the not so nice ones. Shailene Woodley as Tris is likable and is able to show genuine emotion when the time came. Tris also meets one of the leaders named Four (Theo James) who looks like a cross between Billy Zane and James Franco. He also gives his character the correct amount of enthusiasm to be interested in understanding more. The rest of the Dauntless crew that Tris gets to know is played by Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Christian Madsen and Zoë Kravitz, all of which give enjoyable human performances. Possibly one of the most likable jerks in this story however was Jai Courtney as Eric. His duo deadpan and mean spirited attitude make him one to be reckoned with and probably Courtney's best role thus far.

We also cannot forget the supporting characters played by the underrated Ray Stevenson, Tony Goldwyn, Mekhi Phifer and Kate Winslet. All of which have very minor roles but important ones nonetheless. What is really apparent about this character driven story was Neil Burger's direction of which the kinds of choices he had this character's make and the writing provided by Evan Daugherty (Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) & Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)) and Vanessa Taylor (Hope Springs (2012)). The development was one of its strongest points. The cinematography by Alwin H. Küchler (DP of R.I.P.D. (2013)) looked decent as well. He was able to show the contrast between what people normally see on the surface and the underground operations people don't know about. Even with a minimal amount of special effects they too were integrated well into the movie. No complaints there.

Jai Courtney as his punk self
Though even with all these good points, the film still suffers from other issues. For one, there are loopholes in its story. If this particular society is so rigid and perfectly made so there are no problems, why is it that there are still problems? How is it that if one character can change factions, the upper authorities won't know? This movie's running time was very close to two and a half hours, I'm sure they could have fit a quick explanation in somewhere. Then there was the music composed by Junkie XL. It certainly was a tolerable score with its hybrid mix of electronic and orchestra but there wasn't much to remember it by nor were there any themes for the franchise or characters themselves. It was effective in its scenes but still disappointing. Lastly, the action was a bit bland. It's obvious that it wasn't a full out action movie but audiences might expect more than a few fight sequences, a "captured the flag" like scene and a some other shootings. Perhaps it'll escalate? We will see. It certainly isn't a waste of a movie but it did need improvement on all other aspects besides its characters.

This movie is like the reversal of other fantasy films. It has a big cast with competent actors and writing that develops its characters effectively. With this, its supporting elements don't seem as exciting with average music and somewhat uninspired action scenes.

Points Earned --> 6:10

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