Leon van Nierop
2 minute read
4 Apr 2014
6:00 am

Movie review: Divergent

Leon van Nierop

There are obvious similarities between Divergent and the two Hunger Games movies. But Divergent seems more human, with greater attention to characterisation and playing up to its audience. And its heroes are more interesting, colourful and charming.

Shailene Woodley and Theo James star in 'Divergent'. Picture: Supplied.

Stories are never really the main issue in science fiction franchises – and in this case you can fit the plot onto the back of a postage stamp. The film is about how the heroes cope with their lives and their mutual attractions drive the story forward.

In a futuristic Chicago there are five factions that post-war survivors can join. Most humans prefer peace, calm and tranquil happiness in a kind of demented Shangri-La. But the youth of this era is never content with resulting boredom and tedium. The adrenalin in their bodies forces them to broaden their horizons and examine other factions – especially ones where evil and corruption seem to rule.

This is how Tris (Woodley) lands up in a dangerous group in which she has to fight for her life and the lives of her friends.

In between jumping on moving trains and disappearing into deep holes, she meets a handsome new hero called Four. (“What? One to three were taken?” asks her sceptical friend.)

Theo James, better known for a cameo in Downton Abbey, is a new kind of hero: pleasant on the eye and very human, with fears and weaknesses, though he has extraordinary courage. Together Woodley and James make for one of the hottest screen couples of the year.

And there is a brooding sensuality between them that makes you root for them and hope they get together.

Sci-fi films are usually about whether the hero and heroine can survive impossible odds, and not whether there is a romance somewhere. Divergent successfully combines the two.

This is a take-away film dressed up as a spectacular blockbuster with great production values.

Neil Burger succeeds in drawing you completely into a futuristic world with derelict skyscrapers, marauding masses and wide horizons.

Where it takes a while to adapt to the world of The Hunger Games and its sequel, viewers are easily and comfortably seduced into the world of the Divergents.

Good direction, two impossibly charming leads and great production values make Divergent the ideal way for kids and adults alike to spend the Easter holidays.