The latest installment of the Star Trek franchise is fresh, fun and fantastic. For the first time since the reboot, we have a brand new story, not a retelling, with some pretty cool new villains, and some awesome new places. Granted, I have never been a dedicated trekkie, so I could be wrong and there are references to some things from the old series and films that I didn’t pick up, so these new places may not be new at all. However I don’t care. It was awesome.
Despite what the majority of critical reviews are saying, this film is quite fun to watch. I actually enjoyed it quite a lot. Despite the fact that at times it felt as if there were too many characters and the plot seemed ridiculous, this film packs a lot of explosions and some great effects that are a joy to see play out.
To start, I’ve never been that big a fan of the Hunger Game series. Yeah, they are a little entertaining, but they are nothing I want to watch repeatedly. With the first one I preferred the book, the second one I preferred the movie, and the last book I only read a quarter of before I had enough and was surprised I managed to sit through the film. The entire concept just makes me think of a less bloody Battle Royale, though a more plot driven version of course.
So here I was today, ready to see a new film. Arriving at the cinema, I discovered that there was only one film on at the time; Divergent. I hadn’t heard a lot about the film, and from the trailer that I saw, it did not seem very appealing. It seemed to me to be another flick aimed at teenage girls, the likes of whom watch Twilight and The Hunger Games. Though I dislike Twilight immensely, I did enjoy The Hunger Games, (more-so the second film), so I figured that since it seemed more like a Katniss Everdeen action hit, I thought I’d give it a go. And I wasn’t disappointed.
Going in without much hope that it would be any good helped a lot I think. Having little to no expectations, I was surprised to find myself enjoying the movie.
The film depicts the story of Beatrice Prior, who lives in the futuristic dystopia of Chicago. There, people are sorted into factions based on their personalities; Abnegation are the selfless, Amity are the peaceful, Candor are the honest, Erudite the intelligent, and Dauntless, the brave protectors of the city. At the age of 16, everyone undergoes a test to see which faction they will live with for the rest of their lives. However, when Beatrice takes the test, she discovers that she is a Divergent, someone who fits into many of the factions. She is warned to keep this a secret as Divergents are feared by the government because they can think independently, and therefore cannot be controlled. Beatrice chooses to hide herself with the Dauntless faction, and there must overcome a series of trials in order to maintain her place within the faction, which soon develops into a trial to stay alive when she comes across a plan to overthrow the current government and gain stricter control of the factions.
The film is by no means original. The idea of sorting people into factions is very similar to the Sorting Hat in the Harry Potter series, and the idea of the ‘intelligent’ government controlling the meek has origins in so many other stories I would be here all day listing them.
Despite this however, the story is captivating. The beginning sets up the dystopic world very well, certainly much better than the Hunger Games did, and the story develops quickly and smoothly, with no plot holes that I could see or even think of now. I found myself drawn into the story immediately. The middle act where the Dauntless initiates are training was very nice. The action was enjoyable to watch, and there were few shaky hand held camera type movements, which every movie seems to make use of these days, meaning that for once, I was able to watch an action scene clearly with few blurry movements. And watching Beatrice progress into a confident, self-aware woman was wonderful to see. It is rare that we see such personal growth within a film. Usually we have to wait two or more films to get that far, and it was refreshing to see it happen here.
The film ends on a cheesy note, once again utilizing the ‘love conquers all’ theme, though it does work. I was rolling my eyes a bit, because really, it is a theme that is overused. But no matter. It didn’t leave anything open to a sequel, so if there never was one, the film still feels complete, and I like that. It is a film that can be seen as a stand alone, which is great, because cliff-hangers are getting to the point where it is no longer enjoyable, (thank you Peter Jackson). Though I do know that there is a sequel in production, and I think I read that the third book will be split into two films, so at least there is more cheesy teen flicks to look forward to.
I haven’t read the books, nor did I hear about them until the film was released, so I don’t know how close the movie was to them. I imagine that many fans will probably be disappointed by what was left out and what was inevitably changed or added to make the plot progress easier. I will just have to wait and find out when I eventually get around to reading them.
Shailene Woodley was wonderful as Beatrice, and I look forward to seeing her other films. I believe she is in the upcoming flick The Fault in Our Stars, alongside fellow Divergent actor Ansel Elgort, which I have the feeling will end with me in tears.
Theo James was was also great as Four, and I think he will soon become my next favourite actor. Maggie Q, Zoe Kravitz and Miles Teller were great, as was Kate Winslet. I know many probably think that her role was something anyone could do (and kind of true) but it was refreshing to see her as an antagonist. She plays a cold villain very well.
So here I am, giving the film a solid 3 out of 5.