Having seen the tween-focused trailer, I went into this film hesitantly with expectations of overplayed high school romance and war game whimsy. To my surprise, the story works, the actors act, the romance is underplayed, and I got sucked in by it all. I should’ve known that I could expect A-games from this cast. Ashley Judd and Kate Winslet don’t really make movies now unless they want to. They’re no slouches. In my opinion, they can wait to play great parts in potentially epic films with heart. Shailene Woodley first impressed the world as the anxty teen with Daddy Issues in The Descendants (2011). She’s not so far from that role in this film, but she starts soft and gains intensity as her character attempts to blend into a group that she was not born into. If actors in these films believe in the story enough, we believe in them. Then, voila’. Audience hooked.
Spielberg set us up with his film Minority Report (2002) to believe that the future is blue. This film caps the blue hue almost to colorlessness. Daunting as battle may be for a girl raised to be empathetic, her blood runs to courageous team Dauntless and therefore daily beatings and senseless seeming violence become routine. Take the hint. This film is too violent for children.
The army sector, though bold, does not allow for the bravery of critical thinking or selflessness. Once again, the post-apocalyptic scenario cannot seem to factor in faith. Why, with all of the Districts laid out by the Capital and the Factions divided by virtues and allegiance can writers never quite add more than the threat of the “human spirit?” Even the poverty laden and less civilized portions of our world nominate or relegate to a higher power either by choice or tradition. The set of “virtues” that each Faction bows to in this fictional fantasy are not enough to maintain allegiance. One group will seek the domination and worship of the rest. It is inevitable.So, a hero must rise up, mustn’t she? She begins as underdog, but fights to fit in and finally to find freedom. That is the essence of story. I see this story paralleled so often in the Bible as David fights Goliath and becomes King, as Daniel faces the lions and gains position in the kingdom, as Joseph is sold into slavery and eventually becomes second to the Pharaoh. I am always challenged when I read the Bible.
I am a Christian. By choice. And, it is not always a popular choice. At the heart of Divergent is the desire we all share: to be known and appreciated for our uniquenesses. Yet, culture too often demands elements of uniformity. The divergent is dangerous to the despotic. When humans are forced to agree and to lose anonymity, choice, diversity, we must recognize the potential for the power-hungry to abuse their power using fear as a weapon. Then, watch for the retaliation of inevitable revolt from those who value individuality. It is, as always, A Tale of Two Cities.