MovieBob - Intermission
Divergent? More Like "Why-Vergent"

Bob "MovieBob" Chipman | 21 Mar 2014 16:00
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The answer, of course, is plot-specific: Tris' test comes back inconclusive, a rare occurrence that marks her as "Divergent." That is, someone who (gasp!) doesn't fit neatly into any of the established factions which are somehow treated as rigidly-defined despite having established that anyone who wants to can join regardless of background. Well, whatever. Tris pledges Team Jock anyway, but must keep her non-conformity a secret because Divergents' potential for multiple skill sets makes them a threat to The Social Order somehow.

See how easy this hogwash is?

MOVIE: "Have you ever felt like you didn't fit exactly into the adult world's expectations of you and that society was just so much crushing conformity and phoniness that you can totally see right through and want no part of? Because if so, that means you're actually The Chosen One!"

AUDIENCE: "Why, yes! Because what you just described is called being a teenager - OMG! This story... is about meeeeeeeee and how my self-centered, hormone-driven sense of angst and isolation is actually what makes me The Most Specialest Person Ever!!!!!"

The bulk of the plot involves Tris going through Team Jock (okay, fine, they're called "Dauntless,") training sequences ripped wholesale from Starship Troopers, Ender's Game, etc while forging relationships with supporting characters patiently waiting for their arcs to start mattering in Book II. Chief among these is Ansel Elgort (poor guy) as Sexy Love-Interest Trainer, Zoe Kravitz as Black Friend and an unfinished fetal-clone of Joseph Gordon-Levitt Miles Teller as Not Draco Malfoy. Her main conundrum is avoiding detection by acing her trials Dauntless-style (read: through punching) rather than by situational multitasking - which is apparently the big important super-power of Divergents even though we've already established that a ton of these people change life-direction in their mid-teens so a varied skill-set shouldn't be remotely surprising to anybody.

This all drags on uninterestingly until she and Sexy Love-Interest (who is also a Divergent and has abusive daddy-issues as a bonus) uncover an evil conspiracy by the leader of The Euridites ("Team Nerd") to use mind-controlled Dauntless troops to massacre Team Gandhi and usurp the government. Since Divergents are immune to mind-control (why?), it's up to them to save the day in a boring shootout. Kate Winslet sleepwalks through a glorified cameo as the bad guy, looking like she regrets waiting so long to have finally joined the rest of her Respected British Acting brethren in collecting one of these easy Hogwarts Faculty paychecks.

The laziness of the setting and script extends down to the rest of the production. Hunger Games, at least, bothers to greenscreen its cast into somebody's idea of the future - Tris and company are left running through cheap sets and cheaper ruined-city locations, pausing only to ride a zipline for no reason. For a movie about escaping from conformity, Divergent has a complete lack of interest in veering away from formula.

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