March 29, 2014
Family Film Blogging Divergent
Posted by Christine Hurt

I did not want to interrupt our awesome forum on Hobby Lobby with my pedestrian mommy movie reviews, but here goes:

Opening night for Divergent found me and another lucky mom sitting with four sixth-grade boys (and three girls who pretended to be annoyed that we ran into them) in the IMAX.  Yes, we had all read the book.  (Though, after devoting too much of my life to both the Twilight series and the Catching Fire series, I stopped at the first, which is usually the best.)  And, of course, we are two hours south of pre-dystopian Chicago.

Beatrice/Tris is our heroine in our dystopian future Chicago.  Though she was raised in the selfless Abnegation faction, she chooses on the appointed choosing day to join the Dauntless faction, which favors crazy bravery in order to be the security force of the city.  Her brother chooses Erudite, which is the faction for academic research/think tank sort of things.  As you might expect, trying to join Dauntless is a harrowing experience, with the prospect of failure and being "factionless" a harsh, but real possibility.  Tris, of course, falls in love with her trainer, Four, because movies with young, female heroes seem to be required to have as a "sub"plot "who is going to be my boyfriend?"

So, many reviews are not very favorable, including the Manohla Dargis one in which the reviewer seems to be puzzled by the magic of mascara.  But I will say that my low expectations aside, I was pleasantly surprised.  No, it's not Harry Potter, and who knows when that will roll around again, but it is completely enjoyable.  And yes, it seems a little derivative of Catching Fire, which features another teenage girl with a secret courageous streak that comes in handy when she has to save the world.  I would argue that it's not as violent as Catching Fire (and less violent than the book), though that may not be saying much.  Many fans have noted that the ending is different, but I actually liked the movie ending better.  My only quibble is that the end of the movie, with plenty of monologuing by Kate Winslet, makes the tension seem more like the Erudite and Dauntless factions v. Abnegation faction, when in the book it seemed more like a few power-hungry Erudite exploiting the Dauntless to grab power with the Abnegation conspiracy charges as obvious ruse.

FYI, all the boys liked the movie.  They also liked the book.  None of them ever mentioned that the main character was a girl.  In case you didn't see this, In Praise of Joanne Rowling's Hermione Granger Series.

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