Divergent Review

Divergent is the most recent (and surely not the last) trilogy of young adult novels to get the big screen treatment.  We have already been blessed with Twilight, Percy Jackson, and The Hunger Games (which I actually enjoy), and now we get to see the world author Veronica Roth created in the widely popular series.  Divergent is the first story of the trilogy where we are introduced to futuristic post-apocalyptic Chicago.  Society has split into five factions based on personal attributes.  The factions are Abnegation the selfless, Dauntless the brave, Erudite the intelligent, Candor the honest, and Amity the peaceful.  Each faction runs a different part of the society, all working together so that there is never a war again.  When teenagers turn 16 they are forced to select which faction they will be in for the rest of their lives.  They may choose to leave their faction, but if they do, are never welcomed back to their families (Like the Amish).  Our protagonist Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) is in this predicament as she must chose which faction she will join.  The problem is that during her entrance exam, its discovered that she does fit into one specific category and doesn’t easily conform.  As you would imagine, the powers at be don’t like people thinking for themselves, and hunt down all that don’t fit into a faction, known as Divergants.

The premise for the film sounds interesting enough, as it’s relatable to what goes on in our society today.  While certainly less extreme, we all are put into specific categories through state-sanctioned standardized testing, and put into a box much like the characters living in this world.  The problem this movie has is that it asks these important questions, but choses not to answer them.  Instead we follow Beatrice “Tris” from her transformation from caregiver to protector of the city.  We have to watch her boot camp at Dauntless (brave), as she goes from the worst to best in class.  Everything that happens has been seen before, as the film adds nothing new, and chooses instead to ride what successful films have already done.  I found it difficult and tedious to watch this movie-enduring the love interests, friends turning on each other, and Tis’ incredible improvement in her fighting ability was painfully dull.  The action is spread out and what action scenes we do get, are so forgettable,  I’m having trouble remembering the film from one day ago.

It’s a shame to see Kate Winslet and Mekhi Phifer used almost solely for their name on the poster, and not properly utilized.  Shailene Woodley does a good job at having to carry this film, which was an incredible amount of weight for her to support.  She needed help but was left out to dry.  Director Neil Burger (Limitless, The Illusionist) struggled at putting this film together as one cohesive story, and instead it feels like a ton of scenes just thrown together, as the flow of the movie never materials.  You just don’t believe, or don’t care about the story the way you should, as the scope of the film seems big but never comes into fruition.  The filmmakers had this huge playground of a city to play with, but 80% of the movie takes place in a dimly lit room or narrow corridor.  If the story and script are weak you hope for a visually beautiful film, but in Divergent they missed on all parts.

Fans of the books may enjoy seeing the movie brought to life, but other than the real fans, I don’t know who will enjoy this film.  Just because you have successful novel/movie franchises doesn’t mean that it will always work on film.  Divergent, while having a fairly good cast, delivers nothing in the way of thrills, fun, entertainment, or uniqueness.  Coming in at 139 minutes, Divergent feels even longer, and with two more sequels in the works, lets hope that they can right this ship.. or train (Yeah I guess in the future our main mode of transportation will be trains).

Directed by Neil BurgerDivergent stars Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Miles Teller, Zoë Kravitz, Mekhi Phifer, Kate Winslet, and is in theaters now.

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Divergent in Theaters March 21st

Divergent_27(PCM) Based on the best selling book series by Veronica Roth, Divergent takes place in a world where every citizen must take a test that determines their place in society, and for those whose test results are inconclusive, society is a dangerous place.

Divergent is a thrilling action-adventure film set in a world where people are divided into five distinct factions based on human virtues; Abnegation (selflessness), Amity (peacefulness), Candor (honesty), Dauntless (bravery), and Erudite (intelligence).

When it comes time for Beatrice ‘Tris’ Prior to take the test her results are inconclusive, marking her as Divergent meaning she will never fit into any one group. When she discovers a conspiracy by a faction leader to destroy all Divergents, Tris must learn to trust in the mysterious Four.

Together they must find out what makes being Divergent so dangerous before it’s too late.

Divergent stars Shailene Woodley (The Spectacular Now), Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now), Theo James (Underworld: Awakening), Kate Winslet (Titanic, Revolutionary Road), Jai Courtney (A Good Day to Die Hard), Zoe Kravitz (After Earth), Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars, Carrie), Ray Stevenson (Thor), Maggie Q (Nikita), Ashley Judd (Kiss the Girls), Tony Goldwyn (The Last Samurai), and Mekhi Phifer (Dawn of the Dead).

Neil Burger directed Divergent and is known for his other films Limitless (2011), The Illusionist (2006), and The Lucky Ones (2008).

The next two installments in the book series, Insurgent and Allegiant, have already been green-lighted for pre-production and have release dates for 2015 and 2016.

Watch a trailer for Divergent below, check out the official website here, and catch the film when it opens in a wide release in 2D and IMAX theaters on March 21st.

The post Divergent in Theaters March 21st also appeared on PCM Reviews.

Labor Day in Theaters Jan. 31st

Labor_Day_3(PCM) Hitting theaters nationwide this Friday is the latest film from writer-director Jason Reitman, Labor Day.

Starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin, Labor Day (based off the novel of the same name by Joyce Maynard) follows the story of depressed single mom Adele (Winslet) and her son Henry after they offer a wounded, fearsome man (Brolin) a ride. As police search town for the escaped convict, the mother and son gradually learn his true story as their options become increasingly limited.

Based off of the film’s trailer (seen below), movie-goers might want to grab a box of tissues before they head to the theater.

Movie lovers might recognize director Reitman’s style from his other films: 2007′s Juno, 2005′s Thank You For Smoking, 2009′s Up in the Air, and 2011′s Young Adult.

Watch the trailer here and check out Labor Day as it opens in theaters this Friday, January 31st.

The post Labor Day in Theaters Jan. 31st also appeared on PCM Reviews.

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