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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Crime > War > Terrorism > Science Fiction > Dystopia > Teens > Divergent (2014/Summit/Lionsgate Blu-ray w/DVD)

Divergent (2014/Summit/Lionsgate Blu-ray w/DVD)

Picture: A/B+ Sound: A/B+ Extras: B Film: B+

Coming off the success of The Hunger Games, a film that has been used as a comparison piece to this film comes the adaptation of the young adult novel Divergent. The first film in a planned trilogy, the film is not nearly as bad as you might expect. Starring rising star Shailene Wolley with supporting actors Theo James, Ashley Judd, Maggie Q and Kate Winslet in a nasty turn as the film's antagonist. The film has a very clean, polished look to it and boasts some impressive special effects sequences and direction by Neil Burger.

Divergent takes place in a futuristic dystopian Chicago where society has been divided into five distinct factions based on virtues: Abnegation the selfless, Amity the peaceful, Candor the honest, Dauntless the brave, and Erudite the intelligent. Members join a faction based on their choice but are given a suggestion by an aptitude test. Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) has grown up in Abnegation, the faction that runs the government, yet has always been fascinated by Dauntless. Her father, Andrew (Tony Goldwyn), serves on the ruling council along with the head of Abnegation, Marcus Eaton (Ray Stevenson).

Each year, 16-year olds undergo a serum-based aptitude test that indicates the faction into which they would best fit, and informs their choice at the Choosing Ceremony. Beatrice takes the test with a Dauntless woman named Tori (Maggie Q) as her proctor. Her test shows attributes of several factions (Abnegation, Erudite and Dauntless), meaning she is Divergent. Tori records her result as Abnegation and warns her to keep the true result secret, telling her that since Divergents can think independently and the government therefore cannot control them, they are considered threats to the social order.

The next day at the Choosing Ceremony, Beatrice's brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) chooses Erudite, while with hesitation, Beatrice chooses Dauntless. After the ceremony, Beatrice meets Christina (Zoƫ Kravitz) and Al (Christian Madsen), two Candors who chose Dauntless, and Will (Ben Lloyd-Hughes), an Erudite who also chose Dauntless. The Dauntless initiates are given tests such as jumping from a train running at full speed and taking a leap of faith from a tall building into a large hole. During these tests, the initiates meet Eric (Jai Courtney), a brutal young leader of Dauntless, and Four (Theo James), the transfer initiates' instructor. Beatrice volunteers first to jump off the building and leap into the hole, which has her branded as First Jumper. After the jump, when Four asks her name, Beatrice decides to shorten it to "Tris".

Tris initially struggles in Dauntless training, but slowly improves. After being forced to fight her enemy Peter (Miles Teller) and being hospitalized, Tris almost fails out of Dauntless, but redeems herself by playing a key role in winning a capture-the-flag game.

After the physical stage of Dauntless training, the initiates are put into simulations in order to face their fears. Tris' divergence allows her to excel at these tests, but Four, who strikes up a relationship with Tris, warns her to conceal the reasons behind her success and to solve the challenges the way a true Dauntless would. Together, Tris and Four uncover a mind-bending conspiracy that will put their courage to the ultimate test as well as their destines.

The film isn't quite as risk taking or thought provoking as The Hunger Games, but it's a fine Young Adult fair. Director Neil Burger does a good job of pitting our characters in an interesting looking world that is its own. My favorite moments in the film are the tests that Tris undertakes that deal with being trapped in a water tank and of course her induction into the Dauntless. I am very curious to see how the next film turns out, named Insurgent, which will hit theaters later this year.

Summit/Lionsgate has done a fantastic job with this Blu-ray release, capturing the film in a flawless 1080p high definition transfer in a 2.40:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a loud, lossless DTS-HD MA 7.1 track. Also on the disc are a lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 track optimized for late night listening, English DA, and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 respectively.

The DVD and Ultraviolet versions of the film look fine in a compressed format but don't compare to the stunning work that was done with this Blu-ray. This Blu-ray is a great disc to test out on your home entertainment system!

Bonus features on the disc are an Audio Commentary by Director Neil Burger, an additional commentary track with the Producers, Bringing Divergent to Life Documentary, Faction Before Blood Featurette (which is a Blu-ray exclusive), Deleted Scenes, and a Marketing Gallery.

- James Harland Lockhart V



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