What happens when you capitalize on the success of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, throw in a bit of the still wildly-popular Harry Potter franchise and add a dash of originality? Evidently you get Divergent! Now I digress as I actually enjoyed the movie, but to be completely and totally honest, I’d never even heard of the books/film(s) until a few months ago. Having read all of the Harry Potter books as well as The Hunger Games trilogy, I suppose I’m a bit biased, but after seeing Divergent it’s clear to see that there’s more than just a few coincidences. Stilll, I have to give a little credit to author Veronica Roth, since every aspiring writer out there must be trying to get a piece of The Hunger Games’ success, and she managed to make that happen (under the age of 25, no less). And throwing in red hot actress Shailene Woodley from The Descendants, The Spectacular Now and The Fault in Our Stars fame, certainly didn’t hurt matters. Now you know the history, so let’s focus on the present, er – future, shall we?
Set in Chicago a century from now, Divergent looks at a society that literally divides its citizens into five distinct factions. These factions, pigeon-holed though they might be, embody those that comprise them. There’s Abnegation or the “selfless” as those that do public service and value others first. Erudite are the intelligent ones while Dauntless are militant and brave. Amity are peaceful while Candor value honesty above all else. Katinss Tris (Shailene Woodley) comes from a good home and it’s now time for her and her brother, Caleb (Ansel Elgort), to select their factions. These factions will determine the course of their lives. Both Caleb and Tris have been tested and Tris has been warned that she’s different in that she doesn’t fit solely into one faction. This marks her as divergent and is therefore dangerous. Tris selects Dauntless while Caleb selects Erudite which leaves their parents (Ashley Judd and Tony Goldwyn) unable to speak to them since they’re in a different faction (Abnegation). The story follows Tris as she goes through a “boot camp” of sorts and we meet the main cast of characters. We see that there’s more to Tris than meets the eye and under the watch of Four (Theo James), the two form an unlikely bond. We get a sense all isn’t well as we meet Jeanine (Kate Winslet), leader of the Erudites and someone who seems out to get Tris. In a society governed by factions, is there any room for someone that doesn’t fit the mold?
Admittedly I rather enjoyed Divergent and as one of the bigger films of the year, we already know there are two other installments on the way (well three if you count the inevitable two-part “climax”). There’s more than a passing resemblance to The Hunger Games, but really – so what? Isn’t nearly every romantic comedy out there just about the same? How about most war movies? I could go on…Divergent has a great cast of characters, some interesting story lines and I felt the 139 minutes go by in the blink of an eye all the while being entertained. In my book, that’s a good movie. Of course, this sets the stage for the next installment, Insurgent, and having not read the novels I have no idea what to expect. Still, the cast does a great job here with a very overlooked Miles Teller (Shailene Woodley’s co-star in The Spectacular Now), Kate Winslet as a villain and a few other surprises that I won’t divulge. So call it a copy or what you will, but I found the film to be exciting and enjoyable.
Video: How’s it look?
Since the disc itself is the same as the other versions, you can expect a first-rate transfer. Details are strong and consistent throughout with no major issues (or minor ones) to speak of. Background shots are nice and detailed as well. The rust on several objects comes through nicely, and flesh tones were nice and smooth. The print displayed no flaws either. If you’re looking for a solid transfer, Divergent delivers. The image is AVC encoded with a 2.40:1 ratio.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The DTS HD track compliments the transfer very nicely too. The little details stand out nicely too. Bullets fly, a knife is used in a scene or two. Vocals were always nice and strong with no problems. Fans can expect their system to get a nice workout here. The front channels get a lot of usage, but the rears kicked in on several occasions. This track will please fans and accompanies the transfer nicely.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Divergent is a popular film and there are no less than three other versions out there. Best Buy has a steel book that has the same features as the Blu-ray. Wal-Mart has a variant that has a collectible DigiBook as well as the first 20 pages of the e-book “Four” and this Target version has a few extras as well. Those are highlighted below.
Audio Commentary – The first of two audio commentaries, this one features Director Neil Burger as he dissects the film’s plot, some of the details on the shoot and the challenge of making Chicago as it would appear 100 years from now (and no water, to boot). It’s a bit more technical than the second commentary, but a good listen nonetheless.
Audio Commentary – Next up we’ve got Producers Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher who tackle the film from a different perspective as they’re more about bringing the novels to the screen, the casting of the different roles and some of the other shooting details not covered by Burger. It’s a good track, but personally I preferred Burger’s.
Deleted Scenes – Six in all, though there’s no commentary or set up so it’s not really clear as to why they were cut from the final film.
Faction Before Blood – More of a history of the series as we get a brief overview from actress Shailene Woodley who tells us of the factions and what they stand for. Also interviewed is author Veronica Roth (seeming very pleased with herself) as she gives us the inspiration for the novels and how she came up with the ideas for the different factions.
Bringing Divergent to Life
A Bold Beginning – We learn of the history of the Divergent series, Roth’s inspiration for it and its transition from novel to screen as well as the different factions and beliefs contained within the series.
Becoming Divergent – Woodley and crew tell us about the vigorous training regiment to prepare for their respective roles and the need for the military aspect for more authenticity.
The Epic Experience – We learn of the unique fighting style created for the film as well as some of the different types of training and the progression the characters made throughout the film.
A Fearless Finish – We get a look at some of the special effect used for the film, some of the naturalistic things used as well. Even things I’d not have realized, but little things like traffic lights were removed due to the lack of cars, no bus stops and so forth. Very interesting.
Music Video – Ellie Goulding’s “Beating Heart.”
Theatrical Trailer – Two total.
Poster Gallery – Literally as the name entails, it’s a look at some of the different posters for the film.
Also from Lionsgate – Previews for other Lionsgate/Summit films.
DVD/Digital HD Copy
As mentioned, this Target version contains a few supplements on a stand alone “Bonus Disc” that aren’t included in the Wal-Mart or Best Buy version. New cover art is also included (which I prefer to any of the other versions) along with a plastic slipcover and glossy photos that have the neatly-housed discs inside. The supplements from the standard Blu-ray are all included on the first disc.
Beyond the Initiation – These are essentially more cast and crew interviews that don’t give us a lot, if any, new information, about the film but it’s nice to have.
Faction Fashions – The costumes for the film are something that differentiates one faction from another, here we get some insight into what the thought process was for each faction and why they appear the way they do.
Setting the Score – An interview with the film’s composer and some information about the score of the movie.