After seeing the trailers for Divergent, you can’t help but compare it to the hugely popular, dystopian future, young adult franchise, The Hunger Games. Unfortunately, considering the level of success of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, there’s almost no winning that comparison. Luckily, you don’t always have to exceed a phenom to reap the success of its coattails. There are probably very few who’d make the argument that Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy is “better” than The Hunger Games, but the real question is, can the Divergent movie and its forthcoming sequels stand on their own?
I must admit, that from the trailers alone, I had high hopes for Divergent, but five minutes into the movie and most of those hopes were dashed. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things the film does well. The biggest problem with Divergent is really in its source material. The idea that a society decided to divide itself into five different factions, based on personality is so flawed in itself, that there is almost nowhere to go from there. The cast and crew even raised concerns about this concept during the bonus features. Even if some naïve person in charge of a society ever thought this would work, and implemented it, it would easily fall apart in less than a single generation.
At over two hours long, there are still plenty of questions the film doesn’t answer. What the Divergent movie does do really well, is let the two primaries, Shailene Woodley and Theo James, act. The pair easily outshine the more experienced Ashley Judd and Kate Winslet, though the latter duo’s screen time amount to barely more than cameos. As inexplicable as the script could sometimes be, Shailene Woodley’s earnestness was always evident. Except for the creepiness of the mild love scenes between the two main characters, due to his actual age, Theo James also held his own. Make no mistake though, this film is squarely aimed at a teenage girl audience.
Issues with the source material and artistic execution aside, the Blu-ray combo set is for the most part, a worthwhile effort. The Divergent package includes the standard Blu-ray and DVD along with an Ultra-Violet download code and a sheet of temporary tattoos. Included on the blu-ray are the “Bringing Divergent to Life” documentary, a “Faction Before Blood” Blu-ray exclusive featurette, a very short sequence of deleted scenes, the “Beating Heart” music video and a marketing gallery. The entire package is obviously aimed at female, young adults. That being said, parents could do a lot worse in choosing a movie to watch with their teenage daughters.
Divergent is presented in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio and 1080p HD resolution on the blu-ray, as you would expect with current releases. The colors are all well replicated, including the blacks, though the overall palette of the film is fairly limited. The dystopian world of Divergent is filled with grays and other neutral colors. The 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio is equally as competent, with good separation and clean dialogue audio. Commentary with the director Neil Burger and the producers, Douglas Wick and Lucy are available separately. Descriptive audio, and 5.1 Dolby Digital Spanish are also provided, along with English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
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