Saturday, March 29, 2014
Shailene Woodley, Theo James
March 21, 2014
Summit Entertainment (Lionsgate)
2 hours 20 minutes
Shailene Woodley is seriously becoming Hollywood's newest, and possibly biggest, "it girl," of this generation. After her star turning performance in Alexander Payne's "The Descendents" and her radiantly sweet performance in last year's indie gem "The Spectacular Now," Woodley is now starring in a series of book-to-film adaptations that are sure to appeal to the devoted fan bases, and hopefully even the mainstream audiences of the world. First up on her 2014 slate is the adaptation of "Divergent," the first in a three book series of the same name. "Divergent" is set in a dystopian version of Chicago where people are divided into five sections, or "factions," in order to maintain a system of control. The lead protagonist, Tris, finds out that she doesn't belong into one single faction, otherwise known as being a "divergent." Being a divergent threatens the system that is in place, and Tris is considered to be a danger because of this. The only way for her to possibly survive is to blend into one of the factions that she is qualified in and hope that she can successfully get past the system and live a normal life.
To start off, the acting in this movie is surprisingly really good. Shailene Woodly continues to impress the living hell out of me, further proving that she has the absolute potential to be this generation's Julia Roberts or Kate Winslet. Speaking of Kate Winslet, she's pretty good here, despite probably being the weakest performance in the cast if I must say. I mean, she is menacing and a solid villain overall, but I felt that she was too calm at times and sort of seemed like she didn't want to be there. As for the male actors in the film, Theo James, Miles Teller, and Ansel Eglort are all really good and very engaging in the scenes they're in. Overall, the acting is very solid, with very few mediocre performances to be found here.
Director Neil Burger, best known for films like 2011's "Limitless," has crafted a well-directed moive that may be his best directorial effort to date. I loved the way he saw these characters and the situations they all get into, particularly the scenes where Tris is being tested mentally. Also thriving with talent in this film are the screenwriters, Vanessa Taylor and Evan Daugherty, who successfully manage to adapt this book into a entertaining and captivating 2 and a half hour movie. Frankly, most of the credit should go to author Veronica Roth because it's her book and her ideas that have been adapted to the big screen, but still, Taylor and Daugherty have done a great job bringing the book "Divergent" to the big screen. Hell, even the film's soundtrack, which consists of music from Zedd and Ellie Goulding, fits the film and adds a sort of hypnotic feel to the movie. Overall, the people working behind this movie have really done something special and have made a great start to a potential series that could rival "The Hunger Games."
Coming in as an outsider to the books, I have to say that I was completely taken by surprise with this film. This could be a bias opinion because I have an insanely huge crush on Shailene Woodley, but that's beside the point. I honestly feel that critics were too harsh on this film and were expecting something along the lines of the "Hunger Games" movies. From the well-executed story to the hypnotically great soundtrack to director Neil Burger's fantastic execution, "Divergent" is a 2 and a half hour dystopian adventure that fans of the books will adore, and outsiders to the series should give a chance and come in with open arms. There might be some problems here and there, like the pacing for the film being all over the place and Kate Winslet's subpar performance, but those are things that don't take away from the overall film whatsoever. I, for one, cannot wait for the film's sequel "Insurgent" to come out because I'm extremely anxious to see where this story goes next.
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The Purge: Anarchy
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