That brings us to Divergent, based on the first book in Veronica Roth’s best-selling trilogy. Set in dystopian post-war Chicago at an unknown time, all residents of the city are divided into five factions based on human virtues. Beatrice (Shailene Woodley), whose family is largely Abnegation—helpers of others—is closing in on the day when she must decide which faction she wants to join. To help in this decision, everyone takes a test that determines which faction they are best suited for, but the final decision remains with them. However, her test is inconclusive, meaning that her mind goes for several different choices. People like this, referred to as divergent, are deemed dangerous, and thus eliminated from society. Beatrice is told by the test administrator (Maggie Q) to keep her result secret from absolutely everyone.
During the choosing ceremony, Beatrice makes a somewhat rash decision to join the Dauntless—warrior/police—faction, which has her immediately began weeks of intense physical and mental training to determine whether she is fit to become a member. If she is below a certain cutoff line after the first stage of training, Triss (as she has renamed herself), will become part of the factionless,” lowest of the low, these people sit around and do nothing. As her training progresses, her results begin to raise questions with others about what she really is. If her test results are discovered, she will face death. Can she depend on Dauntless instructor Four (Theo James) when she discovers that one of the factions is planning to overthrow the government? Will she be discovered?
While The Hunger Games films thus far have done a solid job with pacing, that’s a major issue here. At 139 minutes, Divergent takes far too long to get where it’s going. The story gets of track by redirecting large amounts of time to a series of stretched-out training sequences. All of this leads to an expected confrontation with the enemy that doesn’t really amount to much and leaves the viewer feeling cheated. While the action scenes could have been a real plus here, they are rather dull and poorly staged. Gun fights always have the “bad guys” standing in the open, no cover in sight. There’s some exciting stuff involving trains, but used so frequently, it quickly wears out its cool factor. The visual effects are fine, but nothing that says wow.
Divergent’s best asset is its lead, Shailene Woodley. While her co-stars (Theo James, Miles Teller, Jai Courtney Kate Winslet and others) are fine, it’s Woodley who brings a realistic humanity to her role that’s absent from the story. She not a powerful looking girl, but you believe she will give 110% in a fight, and win. Unfortunately for Woodley, she has been given a script where her character does virtually nothing, yet accomplishes nearly everything. She’s a hero only because the writer told us so.
Two follow-up films have been announced, so we can only hope that those will give us a more entertaining and engaging story.
Presented in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio, this 1080p transfer is excellent. Despite the fact that much of the film is rather dark, the picture is sharp throughout and offers a nice amount of detail. The color palette is largely black and gray, but come through nicely. There are no anomalies to mention.
The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is surprisingly soft. I needed to adjust the volume significantly to hear the dialogue at acceptable levels. Once this was done, the track provided a fairly nice surround experience. While it’s nothing that will blow your socks off, there’s nothing to complain about either.
English SDH and Spanish subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- Audio Commentary with Director Neil Burger. Burger praises nearly every member of the cast and crew. He also describes what we are watching.
- Audio Commentary with Producers Lucy Fisher and Douglas Wick. More informational, we learn about the casting process and the production process.
- Bringing Divergent To Life (HD, 47:17) four featurettes that explore everything from adapting the books, to casting the film and the shoot. Interviews and behind the scenes footage are included.
- Faction Before Blood (HD, 14:51) A discussion of the factions.
- Deleted Scenes (HD, 4:27) None of them would have added anything to the film.
- Beating Heart Music Video (HD, 3:48)
- Marketing Gallery includes: Theatrical Trailer 1 (HD, 2:33), Theatrical Trailer 2 (HD, 2:31), Poster Gallery (HD)
- DVD of the film.
- UV Code
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