Movie review: Divergent

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Photo Courtesy of Public Domain

There is a certain beauty to seeing a book come to life, and the on-screen translation that transformed the popular fiction novel Divergent by Veronica Roth into a gripping film released March 20 satisfied book nerds and those who had never even heard of the novel before now alike.

Opening on the post-massive war city of Chicago, the five factions of the city emulating the personality traits citizens within the faction devote their lives to, namely Erudite for intelligence, Amity for peace, Candor for honesty, Dauntless for bravery, and Abnegation for selflessness, are all preparing their 16-year-olds for the Choosing Ceremony, where they will decide which faction they want to join based on their test results. Beatrice Prior, a 16-year-old Abnegation girl played by Shailene Woodley, faces a life-changing choice when her results turn out inconclusive, or Divergent, a rare result that spells certain death for Tris unless she can hide her identity.

I cannot explain to you how wonderful it was to see the Pit before my eyes, Four’s beautifully crafted and symbolic tattoo, Tris’ triumphant first jump, the five factions at the Choosing ceremony, and of course Tris and Four’s fear landscapes. Everything that Divergent readers could only picture in their heads was brought to life on screen with such finesse that may have only happened before in The Hunger Games. Watching Divergent also solidified the glaring similarities between The Hunger Games and Divergent, both female-centered, post-apocalyptic, science-fiction novels and films with rebellion and dystopian societies.

Not to mention that Divergent also had a beautifully selected cast. Not only did Shailene Woodley shine in her role as Tris, as well as Jennifer Lawrence has played Katniss Everdeen, the cast was packed with superpower actors and actresses. Theo James, with delightful chemistry with Woodley, brings to life the cruel but loveable character of Four. Kate Winslet plays a chilling Jeanine eerily comparable to The Hunger Games’s President Snow. Zoe Kravitz, Christian Madsen, and Ben Lloyd-Hughes make up Christina, Al, and Will, Tris’ allies and friends, and were perfectly cast. Not to mention the sadistic Peter, played by Miles Teller, and the adorable Caleb Prior, played by Ansel Elgort.

If you didn’t read the novel, the fast-paced explanations and development of many themes may have seemed a little hasty to you, but with the repetition of key lines from the novel and screenwriter’s own additions were perfectly balanced. Straying from the book marginally, most obviously in the climactic ending, the switch was a necessary time-saver and was done with a few shocks that will even have die-hard Divergent fans rising out of the seats in pleasant surprise, shouting, “That’s not how it happened in the book!”