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Divergent Movie Review

Divergent Movie ReviewDivergent Movie Review

I finally got around to watching Divergent. I was at home the other day, and under the weather, and decided to watch a movie. I haven’t actually sat down to watch a movie in a while. I really just haven’t had the time.

I didn’t want to see this movie in the theater because I knew it was going to be just another teenage drama. The Divergent series by Veronica Roth is written for teenagers and is another teenage dystopian novel riding on the fame of The Hunger Games series. I read the series, I thought it was alright. It wasn’t earth-shattering, but it’s better than most literature for young people floating around these days.

Summary

In the future, everyone is divided into one of five factions. You’re born into a faction, but when you reach a certain age, you’re tested. Your test will reveal what faction it is advised that you go into, but you can chose any faction you wish. Tris is from abnegation and it’s time for her test. Her test goes wrong though. She has three faction results, which is impossible, officially. Unofficially, Tris is what her proctor calls divergent. Tris is told to keep her head down.

Tris chooses the Dauntless faction at the choosing ceremony. Both she and her brother choose on the same day. He also leaves Abnegation for Erudite. Dauntless is the faction concerned with keeping peace. They’re strong and deadly. Erudite is the faction concerned with the science of the city.

Tris learns that her new life is not easy. She must train hard and no one expects her to make it, but she becomes determined. She has a friendship with her trained named Four. He is named Four because he only has four fears. They become closer as the training progresses. Tris’ divergent abilities make it easy for her to get out of mental simulations. Divergents run the risk of people secretly murdered so Tris has to keep her head down. Once she’s in, something terrible happens. Erudite plans to overthrow Abnegation which runs the government. Tris and Four step way out of their bounds to stop genocide.

Observations

Ashley Judd is not someone you would ever imagine holding a gun, but there she was, holding a gun. Maybe I haven’t seen enough of Ashley Judd. I’ve always liked her though.

Differences

The main difference between the book and the movie is one of lack. There was a lot lacking from the movie that was in the book. Tris only gets one tattoo in the movie. There is so much background information missing. Tris is allowed visitors in the book; in the movie her mom sneaks in.

What I liked

The CG of a ruined Chicago was pretty good, especially that whole zip line sequence.

What I didn’t like

This is another movie appealing to teenagers. There is nothing wrong with being a teenager; it’s a phase of life, but my goodness, teenagers are stupid. I’m sorry; they are. I will be the first one to admit that I was stupid when I was a teenager. You think you’re awesome when you’re a teenager, but when you grow and mature some more, you realize you were kind of an idiot.

This movie appeals to the teenage mentality. What does a teenager want to do? What fantasies does a teenager have? Move away from home at sixteen? You betcha. Live with others your age? You betcha. Overthrow the government? You betcha. Get an older boyfriend with tattoos? You betcha. Show your parents and all your friends you left behind how awesome you’ve become? You betcha. Make your brother feel bad about being a loser? You betcha. The whole movie was one big-long teenage fantasy.

While I have explained in my reviews of the books that the ideas behind the Divergent series are very serious, the movie doesn’t necessarily touch on how serious those ideas are. The movie skimps over the important parts of this story and appeals to teenagers. Teenager this. Teenager that.

In the end, it is a teenage book and the resulting movie should theoretically appeal to teenagers, but they could have classed it up a little.

They took this story which had the potential to be a serious commentary about our society and about humanity and turned it into a movie of doing things teenagers all fantasize about and taking away that gritty questionable parts of the story that made it so edgy.

That girl who was Tris, not really a fan. I also don’t really care one way or the other about Four. The person whom I liked the most in this movie was probably Ashley Judd or the tattoo artist, I forget her name off the top of my head. I wasn’t really drawn to any of the movie characters. They can all go fly a kite for all I care.

Parental Advice

There is some violence; it’s not bloody violence though. In other words, it’s not very gratuitous. They completely skipped the part about somebody getting stabbed in the eye. I think there might have been some cussing, but I don’t recall any. There is no nudity. Essentially, you can watch this movie with your kids, I mean, if you really want to.

Overall

This movie just wasn’t meaty enough.

 
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#428 Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant by Veronica RothAllegiant by Veronica Roth

I’ve finished the Divergent series and although I was a bit disappointed with how the last book was going, I think I changed my mind a bit with this book.

In this book we find that Tris and Tobias are mad at each other for all the things they did and didn’t tell each other, but a video has come to light. There are people outside of their city and they need to help of the Divergent, but the city divides into several sides. There is a side that wants to remain true to the faction system and they are led by Tobias’ father, Marcus. There is a side that wants to do away with the factions entirely which is led by Tobias’ mother Evelyn.

Plans are made to go outside the city walls, because no one is really a fan of that, no matter what side they are on. Both of the main sides want to stay in the city and work on their own darn problems. Tris, Tobias, and a few others make plans to leave the city. They rescue Tris’ brother Caleb on the way. When they get out they are met by a person who they thought was dead. Things start to get really interesting.

They are led to a very large building and are told it’s the Bureau of Genetic Welfare. They meet a man named David, who knew Tris’ mom. Apparently, Tris’ mom came from the Bureau. Things are explained. There was a war. People who committed crimes were genetically damaged so the Bureau was created to try to breed the violence out of the people. It would take many generations to see if they were correct.

Tris learns about people who live outside of the cities/experiments. These people are referred to as genetically damaged and live in the fringe of society without access to anything the people in the Bureau have. Tobias learns he’s not really Divergent. It’s just been careful thought and planning on his part to appear that he is Divergent. Tris on the other hand, is Divergent. She’s what the Bureau considers genetically pure.

Tobias aligns himself with a plan to get people from the fringe into the Bureau so they can take over. The plan fails, but Tobias is forgiven pretty easy because he’s genetically damaged and not held to the same type of standards that genetically pure people are held to. Tris is invited to join the council as the Bureau. Tris goes in as a double agent. When she learns what happens to experiments that aren’t going the way the Bureau likes, she knows she has to stop it. The Bureau’s plan is to mentally reset everyone in the city where Tris and Tobias came from. They make plans to take down the Bureau before the Bureau can take down the city.

What I liked

We’re talking about genetic modification and eugenics here, both have their purposes in some aspects, but are largely bad. I’m just going to come out and say they’re bad because they’re bad. It’s not wise to mess with the genetics of something without considering what the outcome may be. There is no possible way to know what would happen to a genetically engineered descendency line. Eugencis is also bad. It’s not a good idea to decide who and who doesn’t get to reproduce or try to breed certain characteristics out of the world. I like that this story illustrates the badness of these things.

I like that the story becomes a little more important in this installment. In the last installment I thought the whole thing was stupid. I was disappointed that everyone was fighting against everyone else and it seemed as if it was for nothing. Their pettiness was still stupid, don’t get me wrong, but I like how the goal became this bigger picture.

Genetics don’t make a person bad. People are themselves and have the right to make their own decisions and live without the intervention of a pesky government. Let’s Tea party! Not. I don’t mean all government is bad, I mean that the government and authority entities can overreach themselves and end up trying to control too many aspects of a person’s day-to-day life, like when the government says you can’t buy raw milk because it doesn’t like it or when a school sends a child home because their hairstyle is too extreme.

I think the ending, although kind of sad, was powerful. I think it made the battle mean all the more. I think it drove the point across even more. I think it wrapped up the severity of the battle.

What I didn’t like

“Do unto others before they do unto you,” is a messed-up version of the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule being, “Do unto others and you would have them do unto you.” Tris and Tobias did unto the Bureau before the Bureau could do unto the city. While this was effective, in the short-term, I think it has a lot of problems morally. What kind of a person are you if you spit in a person’s food before they spit in your food? You think it’s bad that they were going to spit into your food, but you know what, you went ahead and spit in their food anyway. You sank to their level. That’s what we like to call that. You were on the moral high-ground, but  then you decided to come down to the low-ground for a visit before you went back up the high-ground to sleep off your hang-over from all the low-ground party-booze.

He’s a morally upstanding citizen, except for when XYZ is concerned. That’s the kind of situation we’re looking at. Oh they’re good, they’re courageous, but they did this terrible thing to these people this one time, but otherwise, they’re pretty nice; they sent my aunt a birthday card. This doesn’t make it ok. The actions completed by Tris and her cohorts, are not good actions.

Genetics do not make a person inferior, when you start thinking that, you start getting into eugenics and then we start seeing exterminations of peoples on the Earth just because they genetically have a certain characteristic. That is bad. That’s really bad. These losers think that murder was something you genetically did. You were a murderer because you were genetically predisposed to be a murderer. The only scenario where this might be possibly true is if you genetically inherited psychopathy. Psychopaths make good murderers, not that they’re all murderers, some are just really terrible people, but it’s a condition that can predispose itself to being a murderer, which is sad because there are people who actually try to live with this disease and be good people. See, even so, even if you have disease that might possibly in some small chance predispose you to chopping another person’s head off, you can still choose not to. You can choose to be a good person.

The thing is, people meddled in something they shouldn’t have meddled with and then they screwed themselves over, for a long, long time. You know what this reminds me of, it reminds of the tower of Babel. Great stories reflect themselves over and over again in the world. The people of Earth once all spoke the same language and decided in their oneness to build a tower to heaven. God was not pleased. The languages of everyone were confused from this point forward. There were now different languages. It would probably be a lot easier to get along with our foreign country buddies if we all spoke the same language, but if you believe the story, we messed that up a long time ago.

Seriously, it’s like the scenario where someone tells you not the touch the fire. Don’t touch it. It will burn you. Maybe you listen, but maybe you don’t and you touch the fire, now you have a nice scar on your hand. Sometimes, you’re just supposed to leave stuff alone. Leave it working the way it’s been working. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. I could go on.

Overall

I’m more pleased with the series than I thought I was going to be. It still has too many hallmarks exactly like all the other young adult books floating around these days, but it’s an interesting look at the world.



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#412 Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent by Veronica RothDivergent by Veronica Roth

Imagine a world in which your brain determines everything you do for the rest of your life…wait a minute…isn’t that what is supposed to happen? Let me rephrase the phrase. Imagine a world in which people can look into your brain and determine dominant portions of your personality then place you in the world according to those dominant aspects. There that’s more like it.

Tris finds herself in such a world. Tris’s world is divided into five aspects of personality. You’re abnegation, dauntless, amity, erudite, or candor…or, you’re factionless. Being factionless pretty much means you’re cut off from life. Not too many people question the way things are though, so life is pretty good, or so it seems.

Tris is sixteen and it’s that beautiful age in which she gets to choose her faction. In order to do so, she must take a test. It’s a computerized assessment in which her brain is hijacked. Her response to the assessment determines her dominant personality aspects. She can choose any faction, but the test will let her know which faction she is most suited to. Most people are suited to a faction, most often the faction they are born into. When Tris takes the test, it’s psychologically draining, but a very nice dauntless woman tells her some very disturbing news. Tris does not lean any particular way. She is what Tori calls Divergent, Tori being the name of the woman who administered her test. Tori tells Tris to choose a faction, it’s her choice, but be careful. She should never mention the word divergent to anyone. Tris is a little confused about all of this, but goes along with it.

On choosing day, Tris’ brother picks the Erudite faction. The Erudites are the brainy faction. They do lots of research and come up with lots of inventions. This choice shocks Tris, but it’s her turn to choose. She picks Dauntless. People are shocked that both children from one family have deserted their original faction. People will talk about it for some time.

Tris soon learns that being in Dauntless is no walk in the park. She has to make the cut, or she’ll end up factionless. Her days are filled with learning how to shoot a gun, fight and jump off of moving trains. She also gets the odd tattoo here and there. Tris comes out of the first round of ranking pretty good, but soon finds out there is a second stage of ranking, this time it involves simulations. One of the trainers, Four, appears to have taken a liking to Tris. He protects her to an extent. He’s the one administering her simulation when things go bad. Tris can get out of a simulation in about three minutes. This is three times faster than anyone else. It’s a key indicator that she’s divergent. Four knows about divergent. He tells her to keep it under wraps.

Tris goes along with her training, all the while developing romantic feelings for Four, but soon things turn weird. The Erudites implant all the Dauntless with a tracking chip, it’s in case they get lost. There are rumors, especially from her older brother Caleb, that things are going bad. The Erudite are planning an attack on the Abnegations who rule the government. Nobody knows the information fast enough though. The attack comes and it’s done in such a manner to make innocent people murderers and mind control those who are dauntless alone. Tris is not caught up in this because she’s not dauntless alone, she’s Divergent. She must use all her powers of being not one or the other to stop what is happening.

What I liked

What an interesting concept. I’ve read stories like this before, The Giver, being one story that comes to mind. It seems ever since people have been imagining dystopian societies, they’ve been imagining dystopian societies in which people are broken down into incremental parts of themselves. They become just one function, much like the people in Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. You go from being this complex human being to this one thing. You’re only one thing. You’re never another thing, you’re just one thing, period. You don’t get a chance to change your mind or change your destiny. You don’t get a chance to live the American Dream. Scoff at my quaint usages of the phrase “American Dream,” but we all know what it symbolizes and we all know that it takes conscious choice to get there. If you don’t have conscious choice, how are you supposed to get there?

It’s a story about trying to box people in. You’re this one thing and that’s all you’ll ever be. Sometimes there are people who will be happy with that. It works out well enough for them for a while. They have their needs met because they lean a certain way. People are happy, or rather, they don’t know they’re not happy. Remember A Wrinkle in Time? Remember, how the people of the one planet did everything exactly alike at exactly the same moment? Their choice was taken away. Their uniqueness was taken away. They were squirreled away into these little boxes of humanity even though they had no real shackles. They were happy, at least, they didn’t know they weren’t happy, so that’s just as good as being happy, or so their captors would tell them.

This is a cautionary tale, you cannot define people by one aspect of their being. You can’t; you’ve never been able to; you never will be able to.

What I didn’t like

Does this relationship between Tris and Four not reek of the relationship between Bella and Edward in the Twilight series?

  • Bella: I want to be one of you guys. I feel left out. I’m a weirdo at home.
  • Edward: I’m all dark and broody; I stick to myself, but I totally can’t resist the hots I have for you.

….you’re my own personal brand of heroin, now, stay here while I go put lots of gel in my hair.

Now just substitute the names…

  • Tris: I want to be one of you guys. I feel left out. I’m a weirdo at home.
  • Four: I’m all dark and broody; I stick to myself, but I totally can’t resist the hots I have for you.

Yeah, that’s pretty much the same thing. The romantic relationship in this book is very predictable. I guess that’s ok though, because relationships between two teenagers are often predictable.

It would suck to have your fate in life decided because of a personality trait. If that were the case my husband would have to permanently play Scrooge in every production of A Christmas Carol because he’s a humbug. I don’t know what I would be, because I would totally be divergent. They would actually just kick me out. They would be like, “Go and live FAR, FAR AWAY!” Think about it though, your personality can change throughout your life, but it doesn’t change a whole lot. When you were a toddler, you probably displayed many of the aspects you display today. If you were stubborn then, you’re stubborn now. Imagine someone looking at you when you’re a teenage brat and saying, “You go live over there. You’ve got a choice, but not really. If you don’t make the right choice, you’re screwed.” I mean, I guess, teenagers do occasionally make choices like that(getting knocked up on prom night), but overall, teenage choices don’t screw up your entire life. You have a chance to straighten yourself out in real life, in Tris’ world, you don’t, one choice and you live with the consequences forever.

Overall

I don’t know whether reading this book will entice me enough to get me to the movie theater to see the upcoming movie, but it’s still quite an interesting book, even if it doesn’t spark enough interest on my part to make me spend money on movie tickets.



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