Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

March 27, 2014

‘Divergent’ only as terrible as the audience you see it with

Movie Review

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat

Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — There is a certain level of tolerance I’ve built up when it comes to the chick flick genre, but there are just some occasions where the temptation to poke fun at it is too hard to resist. Even the some of the better offerings like today’s selection can’t avoid at least one scene that is an amusing reference to how little one knows when they think they have life all figured out.

I find myself conflicted when it comes to rating this title as it seemed to do a decent job of capturing another post-apocalyptic earth run by a so-called perfect government, yet at times felt it abandoned chances to press those emotional buttons when it came to possible character developing moments. If anything was actually painful, it was hearing the teenage girls in the audience “awwwwing” when the two main characters share a moment of love, but this is at an age when hormones murder half their brain cells. “Divergent” was at least good enough to keep me distracted for another week before the first of the year’s blockbusters arrives.

In a world that seems to have been ravaged by a great war, we see a microcosm of survivors in Chicago of all places, who live in a world that could be best described as “Hunger Games” meets “Harry Potter.” Except for those deemed by society to be too weak, most people are grouped into different factions that focus on one particular skill/character trait, each of which has a training school to initiate the young properly (complete with their own magical and symbol marked choosing bowls).

Our lead character, Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) starts off preparing herself to join one of these factions, but is uneasy as she does not know where she truly belongs, something that makes her a threat to the survival of this utopian society. She ends up faking her way into the police force of this community called Dauntless, but it isn’t long before her nonconformity attracts the attention of both friends like Tobias "Four" Eaton (Theo James) and the female version of Hitler, Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet). As the movie progresses, more and more flaws about the society are revealed and will test the characters well past their breaking point.

The one area of weakness that falls into the same old trap as so many young adult love stories is that our main heroine here can’t seem to be motivated toward anything until her hunk comes along. Well that and when the plot has run out of time to present us with the latest tragic emotional stab. (For example, a gut wrenching response to the death of someone close in one scene and a “I feel sad, but suddenly I’m able to cope as if I’ve had years of counseling and pills” when the same thing happens only a short time later.)

It’s kind of perplexing what sets this apart from some of the bombs like “The Host,” other than the rallying teenage rage cry to save the world is just loud enough to convince audiences to give it a pass. I will say this though, the entertainment value is somehow there and partly erases the painful experience that was “Mortal Instruments.” When the last train rolls down the track, “Divergent” earns two and a half out of five uprisings.

Movie viewing experience courtesy of the Royal Twin Theater of Pauls Valley.