Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Divergent - Just Don't Think about It

Divergent is okay and entertaining enough to hold your attention but try not to spend too much time thinking about it or the story will rapidly unravel with plot holes that you can drive the proverbial Mack truck through.  In all honesty, the show has more of the feel of a teen series you'd find on the CW sandwiched between the Vampire Diaries and Reign.  It is watchable, but it just lacks the depth of plot, character and acting of the famous movie franchise, Hunger Games, that it seems to wish it was.

I am a strong believer that good stories are character driven.  Divergent's characters are far from complex.  They are either extremely good or extremely bad.  We have no real connection to them. The heroine of the movie, played by Shailene Woodley, is Tris, who is divergent.  In other words, in this post apocalyptic world of the factions, Tris fits into no faction.  At a certain point during their young lives the children, on the verge to becoming adults, are tested to see which faction they belong in. They can, however, on the day after the test, choose a faction they feel they belong in even if it goes against the test.

No one seems to notice the problem with having a test to classify people and then to tell them that if they don't like the results, they can become something else.  If the point of having factions is to make sure the peace remains, which is why the factions were created we are told, why would a society want hereditary and social traits to be brought into other factions? In fact, if divergents were capable of running in more than one faction, wouldn't they end up in charge?

There are five factions: Abnegation, who are selfless and as such are given to govern; Amity, who are peaceful, "are always happy" and see to the farming ; Candor, who are honest and deal with law; Dauntless, who are brave and the protectors and soldiers; and Erudite, who are the intelligent and responsible for science and technology. Am I the only one who notices that there is no entertainment, art, or creativity in the society?

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Tris and her destined love, Four, played by Theo James, who turns out to be a divergent as well (which you probably figured out from the trailer)  must face off against the evil Eruidite leader, Jeanine played by Kate Winslet.  Tris, who was raised as Abnegation, is incredibly good, has chosen to become Dauntless, and can fight well only when she is in danger.  Four is the perfect Dauntless fighting machine, and it is love at first sight for Tris and Four.  Jeanine is apparently evil because ... well ... she just is.  Surprise, Tris's mom, played by Ashley Judd, turns out to have been raised Dauntless although she is now Abnegation.  Four turns out to be the son of the leader of the Abnegation,  and yet even though Tris's dad is the Abnegation leader's right hand, Tris has no idea that Four was once Abnegation.  Complexity is nowhere to be seen.  Characters die, but because they are two dimensional, we really have nothing invested in them, haven't really got to know them, and so we don't really feel that bad when they are lost.

At one point' for example, another divergent is roaming around the Dauntless lair after the most of the members of Dauntless have been taken over by mind control by the evil Jeanine.  He keeps asking over and over what's going on.  Apparently, when he tested, no one noticed he was divergent or he was fortunate and someone did notice warning him to pretend as had been done for Four and Tris.  So either the test is terribly inaccurate or for some reason this divergent had failed at "pretend you are Dauntless" which gets this unknown Divergent killed.  Logic anyone?

See what I mean about not thinking about it too much? It is enjoyable, but lacks the rich nuances of Hunger Games.  The sets are all one color, and there is no real comparison for each of the groups.  I am still trying to figure out why farmers would dress like medieval peasants in an advanced world?  I am also curious as to how a society with seemingly no creativity or curiosity  would survive?

Divergent will hold your attention, but that is about all. With Divergent's big money opening weekend, there is little doubt that sequels will follow, and I will probably go see them.  While it clearly wants to be the next Hunger Games, it isn't going to happen.