By: Travis Poppleton, KSL
,” the film based on Veronica Roth's debut novel, is hitting theaters this weekend with decidedly mixed reviews.
John Clyde, Curtis Linnell and I were able to catch a press screening earlier this week, and even amongst us Flicks Junkies
, there wasn't a general consensus on whether the film was a hit or miss.
For me, and definitely check out the podcast for dissenting opinions and a great interview with film composer Zack Ryan, “Divergent” is exactly the right movie for the material. Filled with big ideas, an intimate storyline and an immersive backdrop, “Divergent” is the movie readers hope for when they hear their favorite book is headed to the big screen, and here are three reasons why:
Respecting the fans
Hollywood has rightfully earned the reputation of believing it knows better than its audience. Just ask any Tolkien fan if Legolas should've been in “The Hobbit
” trilogy and you'll get an idea of what I'm talking about.
But writers Evan Daugherty, Vanessa Taylor and director Neil Burger believe in the source material and respect core fans enough to give us a sincere adaptation. To be fair to Hollywood, this may ultimately alienate a few audience members unfamiliar with Roth's work, but the market is still there for this film, and more times than not, credibility is the right investment.
Ideas worth thinking about
I've been thinking about faction-based societies since first reading “Plato's Republic” back in my philosophy 101 days. The fact that Roth found a way to introduce this concept in a compelling and entertaining way to young readers is one of my favorite things about this story. And, even better, the creative team behind the film demonstrates enough restraint to bring up legitimate questions about the concept without throwing down an absolute judgment call.
Oftentimes, large ideas like this overwhelm a story. “Divergent,” on the other hand, keeps the focus on Tris (Shailene Woodley), and leaves the larger philosophical questions on the horizon - always influencing outcomes but never taking center stage.
With so many stories falling victim to their big ideas, it's always great to see a film that can navigate through its message.
I think even my fellow-podcasters admit that, if nothing else, “Divergent” proves Woodley has the charisma and talent to carry a film. She's been amazing in supporting roles and smaller films up until now, but “Divergent” proves she's ready for the burden of stardom.
Other up-and-comers like Theo James and Zoë Kravitz also hold their own, even in the face of some less-than-stellar dialogue. And veteran actors like Kate Winslet and Ashley Judd round out the ensemble in a way that allows you to trust the company and get lost in the story they're trying to tell.
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