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Movie review: Divergent

Another dystopian teen romance

March 22, 2014 | 10:17 a.m. CST

Okay, I’ll admit it: I’ve read all three books in the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. Yes, my hand shot straight into the air when we were asked to take this review. So to say I was excited to see this film might be undercutting the raw energy racing through my body as the opening credits began to scroll across the screen. In between fists full of popcorn, I greedily drank in the images of a dilapidated Chicago (the setting of this dystopian film) waiting for “it” girl Shailene Woodley to appear.

Viewers first see clips of falling hair before the camera moves upward to the star’s face. Deep green eyes are emphasized by eyelashes of incredible length. Tris (Woodley) sits patiently as her mother Natalie (Ashley Judd) finishes tightening her hair into a perfect chignon. Today is a big day after all – the day where every teen from all five factions of the city takes a test to determine what faction they should live in the rest of their days. Born into Abnegation, the group that runs the government and emphasizes selflessness, Tris is expected to stay in her faction. Instead, after being told that the test to end all tests didn’t work for her, marking her as Divergent, Tris chooses to leave her family forever and move into the military ranks of the Dauntless (the brave).

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Once in the throes of the Dauntless, her training to become a sophisticated, fearless warrior begins. She’s noticeably weak and a bit paltry at first, but she soon begins to move up the ranks with her downright ballsy behavior and a lust to prove herself as more than “a stiff.” Now, enter Four (Theo James). Four is the hunkiest of hunks with the cheekbones of a god and a right hook that left many girls next to me gasping for air (quite literally). The two begin a wayward, albeit occasionally awkward romance that ends in some rather intense kissing, which left many audience members in the theater shrieking in delight.

I can’t say, even though I really want to, that the movie was as good as the book. Coming in at a cool two plus hours, the movie is simply too long. I appreciated the attention to detail found within the pages of the book, but the film dragged a bit. The acting was believable and the characters were authentic, which was emphasized by the excellent visual effects and cinematography.

Although it didn’t leave me weak at the knees, Divergent was downright entertaining, so much so that much of the audience robustly applauded the movie when it ended. I won’t say it’s as compelling as The Hunger Games, but it’s a very close second.

Vox Rating: V V V V

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