Apparently, teen novel adaptations are all the rage right now. This year alone we have the first part of the conclusion to the ‘Hunger Games’ trilogy (or is it a quadruplet or some other made up word like that?) as well as films like ‘The Giver’ and ‘The Maze Runner’ and earlier this year everyone went crazy (or at least a bunch of teenage girls did) when Jennifer Lawrence 2.0 (a.k.a. Shailene Woodley) starred in the big screen adaptation of ‘Divergent’. I initially had no desire to see this, considering that I kind of loathe Woodley as an actress, but I used to hate Jennifer Lawrence too, and ‘The Hunger Games’ was partly to blame for my shift in opinion of her.
Beside, this also stars Kate Winslet, and I’ve been in love with her since forever so I’ll stoop to watching just about anything in order to see her school everyone around her.
It’s a shame that ‘Divergent’ is a ridiculous, lazy, halfhearted, underdeveloped and over stylized absolute mess of a film, because it had the makings of something that could have been halfway decent and yet, well, this was outright awful.
|Quick, squish her before she escapes!|
I have so many issues with this film that I’m not even sure where I should begin. I felt almost ashamed to be hating every second of this film, because I was in a room with my best friend and his wife and my wife and his brother and his brother’s wife and they were all kind of glued to the screen and loving this movie and I was hiding in the corner of the couch Tweeting about how awful this movie was. I mean, I had this awkward smile on my face the entire film because I couldn’t for the life of me understand how anyone could find this remotely entertaining in a serious fashion.
It was comical in its depiction of teen life and almost reminded me of a modern-day set Nicholas Sparks adaptation (because he just CANNOT write for modern culture). It all feels so put on and overtly obvious. The depiction of the Dauntless felt so early 90’s, but not in a good way. Think ‘Hook’ and then laugh because they are serious with this mess. I also couldn’t really care much for the film’s description of futuristic life and those factions mostly because it felt so ‘Hunger Games’ lite. Like, we’ve seen all of this before done much better, and while I can’t say that ‘The Hunger Games’ is a relatively smart piece of literature (because, well, come on), the film (and the novel, to a degree) understands the absurdity and uses it as an advantage, dissecting it in order to present a near satire at current pop culture. ‘Divergent’ is almost too serious minded to be taken seriously as much of anything, and it is so stale in its presentation, thanks to an absolutely lifeless performance by Woodley.
I wanted to shoot myself about three minutes in while Woodley was talking at me, explaining what her world was like.
I don’t care.
Please turn this off.
The production values aren’t any better, really. I mean, so much of this was so obviously shot against a green screen that it becomes awkward to watch (that train jumping scene, both of them, were just preposterous and ugly to watch). No one is remotely interesting, and the pointless backstory created feels wasted on this film. I understand that this is the beginning of yet another trilogy, but at least give us something to care about here. Instead, we have visions of beatings that aren’t explored and a family that feels divided almost immediately, for no reason presented at all. It doesn’t help that the only performance here with any real life is Miles Teller, who has a thankless ‘bully’ role and is pretty much abandoned halfway through only to get a small shot at more screen time in the end.
Winslet does fine here, truly, but her villain couldn’t be more bland.
I guess that is the bottom-line here; this movie (story, book, whatever) is so incredibly bland. There isn’t anything interesting at play here. The story feels borrowed, heavily. The ideas feel marginally developed, with no real spice or detail. The characters are one note and disengaged. The performances are a bore, the music is so horribly overplayed and overbearing (like, SHUT THAT MUSIC OFF, PLEASE!) and the finale is so swift it feels horribly lazy and almost rushed.
|Hurry, move the net!|
Another real issue I have here is the amount of time it takes to get to the point. This is probably the film’s largest downfall, because by the time we actually get to the actual ‘Divergent’ issue, we’ve already checked out. Who cares? Who’s still paying attention? I wasn’t, or at least I wish I wasn’t. I mean, I understand that this is building a foundation for more films to come, but taking over an hour to get to the meat of the story was wasted celluloid and created content that felt like filler, and if your film is filled with 50% filler then you have a real problem.
I give this an F. Yup. I don't care. Bring it haters. This was such a wasted film. I hope I don't get roped into seeing the follow-up films, but something tells me that I might.