"Divergent" Doesn't Diverge From an Old Story

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You’ve seen “Divergent” before. You might remember the movie about the dystopian society with the group or person that is different from everyone else, and decides to take down the powers that be. That’s “Divergent” in a nutshell. 

In the world of “Divergent”, everyone is divided into factions that’s based on their personality. Shailene Woodley is Tris, the heroine that we’re supposed to root for. She’s grown up in the “good will to others” faction, but has a hankering for being with the soldier group. When she comes to the age of deciding what group she will live with for the rest of her life, she takes a test that concludes inconclusive or...divergent. After watching her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) choose a group outside of their family’s, she bypasses the farmers, thinkers, logicals, and decides to live her life with the soldiers. 

Tris’s decision puts her in the soldier (Dauntless) group with the mysterious higher ranking Four (Theo James). Oddly, in film nerd trivia, it also places her in the same group with adversary Peter (Miles Teller). This means that Shailene Woodley is in a movie with a leading man she was in love with in a past film (“The Spectacular Now” with Miles Teller), a current love (“Divergent”), and a future love (“The Fault in Our Stars” with Ansel Elgort). That trivia was more exciting then the rest of the film. That had to be strange on set...but I diverge...digress! 

There is a huge chunk of time in which Tris has to learn to fight and think like her new Duantless family while keeping her true identity a secret. Four helps our heroine along the way. In the meantime the evil Jeanine (Kate Winslet) is trying to make her Erudite group the governing societal body while hunting down and killing divergents to keep society from leaving the commands that it’s founders have set out for them. 

There has been a lot of comparison to “The Hunger Games” franchise with this film due its similar theme. The biggest issue I have with the film is that I don’t care about Tris. Whereas Katniss from “The Hunger Games” is a more well rounded person who seems to think for herself, Tris just let’s things happen to her and when she does think for herself it feels forced. “Divergent” has an awesome ensemble of characters in its’ cast but they can’t overcome the script. Truth be told “The Hunger Games” is Sprite and “Divergent” is 7 Up. Sure it looks the same and tastes similar, but one is a far superior movie. “Divergent” is Netflix, Redbox material, that may be your favorite home movie rental franchise to watch as a guilty pleasure.

Rating: C-

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Kevin Sampson

The fact that Kevin Sampson is not just a film critic, but a writer, producer, and director as well makes his understanding of cinema even better. Coming from a theoretical and hands on approach, he understands both sides of the struggle of viewing and creating great works. After receiving an MFA in Film & Electronic Media from American University in Washington, D.C in 2011, Kevin took his love for film to the next level by creating and producing Picture Lock, an entertainment website, podcast, and hour long film review TV show that runs on Arlington Independent Media’s public access station in Arlington, VA. The show covers new releases, classic films, and interviews with local filmmakers in the DMV area. He is also a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association and African American Film Critics Association. He is currently looking forward to filming his first feature film in the near future. He believes that film is one of the most powerful art forms in the world, and he hopes that he can use the craft to inspire others and make a difference in it.