Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Divergent (PG-13/139 Min.)

Benefitting from another pre-screening pass last night, I went with Mack and our friend YaYa to the showing of Divergent. First of all, I loved the casting. Second of all, I haven’t read any of the books in this series yet so I’ll have to ask my niece – who HAS read the books - what she thought. Poor City of Bones didn’t even get a viewing from her because the actors chosen so did NOT fit what her imagination conjured from the books. Hunger Games: Catching Fire almost met the same fate due to the choice for Finnick but I talked her into going anyway. Was kind of sorry I did. So depressing! And I liked movie Finnick okay but I have to agree with PT and say that he was definitely not book Finnick. I seem to have lost track…again.

Divergent is set in a very run-down and over-grown Chicago in the future. I love love LOVE how they made this look in the movie. The set people deserve major props. Get it?... Props?... Never mind. The populace is divided in to five factions; Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless and Erudite. Everyone is born into a certain faction but the teenagers are tested to see which faction they are most suited for and then given the choice of which faction they would like stay in/move to; which begs the question of why they need to be tested if they get to choose anyway. To be “Divergent” is to have a test result of Inconclusive. In this case, our heroine (not the drug!) tests well for several factions. This is a huge no-no in good ol’ Chicago. Apparently Divergents think for themselves and cause trouble. Or so the Erudite would like everyone to believe. So, things tend to go a bit downhill for our heroine when others discover what she really is. So not cool.

I liked this movie a lot but, and I hate to say this, I didn’t become immersed in it. I wasn’t part of a faction. I wasn’t welcomed into society. I was an outsider looking in through the entire film. For those of you who think I’ve lost my mind, I have gone to movies in which I was so completely absorbed that I took no notice of anything else going on in the theater. I became part of a different world for those two hours and had to almost give myself a shake when I was dropped back down in to whatever theater in OK. Or CO. Or whatever other state I’m in at the time. I want to blame others in the audience last night for this. I really do. There were quite a few who have never been taught how to act in public. However, if the movie wasn’t lacking in some small way, would the audience really have distracted me that much? Who knows? I liked it enough that I’m going to see it again. And probably again and again as the other movies come out.

To those of you who have already read the book, be prepared. Mack informed me of some major differences between the book and the movie as we were leaving the theater. One of the changes she explained had me completely baffled. Why would they do that? It sounded like the book version would have been just fine left as is. I used to always read the books before the movies came out but too many films have been ruined for me that way. I know PT (my niece) is going to have a few words to say if the movie makers went overboard. Maybe I can convince her to add to this post with her own take on it.

Let’s talk people now. I don’t recall thinking that anyone should not have been cast for their role in Divergent. I did find it difficult to accept a couple of the actors as bad guys but what can you do? Shailene Woodley is our heroine, Tris, formerly known as Beatrice Prior. I wonder if the author was alluding to anything when choosing that surname. I could just be over-thinking things. Having only gotten to know her in the few episodes of The Secret Life of the American Teenager that I’ve seen, I didn’t have much on which to judge Shailene. Yes, I know you shouldn’t judge, but work with me here. Even just seeing her in the trailer for Divergent, I wasn’t sure how this was going to work out but I liked her. I really did. She seemed like the young and courageous teenager she was supposed to be. She could be serious about her training one minute and acting like the young person she is the next. I definitely could not have gone through what Tris did in this film. The first jump? Would NEVER have happened. I’d’ve been pushed. I’m just sayin’. The only thing I found laughable about her character was when she yelled at the people shooting at her. Really? Is that how it’s supposed to work?

Theo James is Four (his name, not his age), our hero and a leader in his faction. Granted, he has to take a back seat to our heroine on several occasions but that’s how it’s supposed to be. In the story. And sometimes in real life. Four becomes Tris’ champion early on. I wanted to hug him for that alone and then…he took off his shirt. My apologies. I only mention it because YaYa and I caused a bit of laughter around us at the theater when that happened. You see, Four has a ginormous tat on his back and he asked Tris is she’d like to see it. YaYa and I answered for her. A little louder than we meant to. Whoops. But seriously, Four is just good people.

Ashley Judd and Tony Goldwyn are Tris’ parents, Natalie and Andrew. We don’t see much of Andrew so that’s all I’m saying about him but Natalie is well worth mentioning. Unless she makes a drastic change in her style, I will always be a huge fan of Ashley Judd. Her face shows so much emotion that it’s difficult to not be empathetic when watching her. Natalie's sadness at the loss of her children is oh so evident but she’s not out of the picture yet. Oh no! There’s more! Okay, I will mention Andrew again. These people love their children. They are the definition of real parenting. Be there for your children, raise them right, let them make their decisions, make sacrifices to help ensure happy lives and let them go. Granted, the latter is more pronounced in this particular society than in most I know of in reality but still…

Kate Winslet is Jeanine, head of Erudite and Queen of the Universe. Or so she apparently thinks. I never can make up my mind about Kate. My strength of ardor wanes on a movie to movie basis. Sorry, Kate. I strongly disliked her in Divergent but, then again, we were supposed to. Jeanine and the other Erudite’s (and some in the other factions???) are displeased with Abnegation since the people of Abnegation basically run the government. Now, we can’t have that, can we? She is also strongly opposed to any Divergent. When you’re head of Erudite and self-proclaimed Queen of the Universe, that poses a bit of a problem for Divergents, as you can imagine.

Jai Courtney is Eric, jerk extraordinaire! I had such a hard time placing Jai. I was positive I’d seen him somewhere before and knew he played a good guy. I was right. He plays Jack McClane in A Good Day to Die Hard. I liked him in the latter and I liked to hate him in Divergent. I have to admit, though, he looked pretty good in Divergent. Tats and a funky haircut served him well. Looks aside, Eric is a bully and I hated to see Jai like that. I know actors need to be able to play all sorts of roles but my favorites should only ever be good people. Right? His character really bothered me. He was supposed to be a protector but was just the opposite. Every once in a while I thought I caught a spark of sympathy in him but I must have been projecting how I wanted him to be.

I’m going to end the character descriptions with Jai. There were several more I would like to discuss but I’d like this post to end sometime soon. Let’s talk about how Divergent earned its PG-13 rating.

Sex/Nudity – Nope. The worst it gets is Tris stripped down to pants and a bra but she quickly covers up.

Drinking/Drugs/Smoking – Nope. Not that I could tell anyway. Some people are injected with a mind-controlling substance but it wasn’t voluntary so that doesn’t count. That made sense to me anyway.

Cussing – Yes. There were only two, maybe three, cuss words in the ENTIRE FILM!!! How refreshing! Unfortunately, they really weren’t “needed” in the scenes in which they were uttered. They were just insults and not used during times of extreme peril which is really the only time I’m somewhat okay with it. This could have been a cuss-free film. How frustrating.

Violence – Yup. The faction that Tris chose exists to protect the city. To do that, they must know how to fight and fight they do. It’s part of their training and part of their lives. Some of the sparring/fighting is between members of the opposite sex. Parents may need to explain to their children why it’s not okay for boys to hit girls and vice versa. Boys shouldn’t hit boys and girls shouldn’t hit girls either, for that matter. The sparring matches were rough on me. I admit it. Also, there were several implied gunshots to the head. They spared us from actually seeing it happen but if your imagination is functioning you don’t need the visual and that’s just as bad. Several people do die but the blood was kept to a minimum. Having said that, the shoot-‘em-up scenes were nowhere near as bad as Hollywood is making the norm. If you would let your child see Hunger Games, you’d probably let them see this. Rue’s death in HG is still one of the most traumatic movie deaths I’ve ever experienced. If you haven’t seen Hunger Games yet…whoops.

Squidgy moments – I am not thrilled with the thought of needles. It’s a fact. Unfortunately for me and to the amusement of my friends, I had to cover my eyes any time a needle came into view. What’s worse than my dislike of needles? Needles in the neck! I REALLY had to cover my eyes several times because of this. Ick! We get the point already! So to speak.

I did like Divergent and will go see it again. If you haven’t read the book yet, I’d see the movie first if I were you. The only people I wouldn’t recommend this to are young children because they just don’t need to deal with this kind of drama yet. I also wouldn’t recommend it to people who don’t care for violence in film. For those of you who are rolling your eyes at that statement, I’m thrilled that those people still do exist. We still need kind souls in the world. Especially in this day and age. So, anyone who is even remotely interested in this movie should give it a chance. Nothing happened after the credits at the pre-screening so no need to sit through unless you feel inclined to do so.

P.S. Today’s PSA: I do realize that this viewing was free but that does not negate the fact that everyone in that theater came to see a movie, not listen to/deal with the people around them. We especially did not go to listen to the person cluck like a chicken at the top of her lungs for the hour before the movie started. Got old quick. We also did not go to feel the back of our seats constantly kicked or grabbed. These actions are rude. If you are someone who thinks it’s okay to act like this, think about how you feel when the same is done to you. And finally, if you need to unwrap whatever you are consuming, don’t stretch the moment out. Get it over with, for the love of Pete! Okay, I’m done.

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