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Neil Burger
Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Ray Stevenson, Miles Teller, Tony Goldwyn, Maggie Q, Ashley Judd
Writing Credits:
Evan Daugherty and Vanessa Taylor

One choice can transform you.

In a world divided by factions based on virtues, Tris learns she's Divergent and won't fit in. When she discovers a plot to destroy Divergents, Tris and the mysterious Four must find out what makes Divergents dangerous before it's too late.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$54,607,747 on 3,936 Screens
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English Dolby Digital 2.0
English Descriptive Audio
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 139 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 8/5/2014

• Audio Commentary with Director Neil Burger
• Audio Commentary with Producers Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher
• “Bringing Divergent to Life” Documentary
• “Faction Before Blood” Featurette
• Four Deleted Scenes
• Music Video
• Poster Gallery
• Trailers
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Divergent [Blu-Ray] (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 2, 2014)

Prior to 2014, most movie fans knew Shailene Woodley as the rebellious teen daughter in 2011’s The Descendants. The first half of 2014 went a long way to change that, as Woodley starred in two successful films: the romantic drama The Fault in Our Stars and the sci-fi action effort Divergent.

Fault will get attention another day, so now we’ll look at Divergent. Set in a dystopian future Chicago, society finds itself split into five factions, each of which comes based on traits such as honesty, selflessness, peacefulness, bravery and intelligence. People choose factions on their own but take tests that point them in particular directions.

Except for “Divergents”, that is. They show considerable strengths in multiple areas, and the authorities view their independence as a threat.

When she takes the test, 16-year-old Beatrice “Tris” Prior (Woodley) learns of her Divergent status. She ignores this and decides to leave the selfless Abnegation clan for the brave Dauntless crew. We follow her as she trains and learns of government efforts to target and eliminate the Divergents.

When I saw trailers for Divergent: one thought came to mind: “Harry Potter meets Hunger Games”. The influence of the latter dominates, and I think Divergent wouldn’t exist as a film without the huge success of the Jennifer Lawrence-led movie franchise. Hunger Games opened doors for a new “teen girl action” genre, and Divergent shows an awful lot of similarities with that series.

Does my initial dismissal of Divergent stand now that I’ve actually seen it? Yeah, pretty much. While it comes with mild entertainment value, Divergent never manages to stand out as much more than a collection of influences.

When I initially viewed Divergent as connected to Harry Potter, I felt that way because the choosing of factions reminded me of how Hogwarts students ended up in different “houses”. Another similarity occurred to me, though, as I felt that ala the first Potter film, Divergent mostly sacrifices real narrative in terms of exposition. In the case of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, about half the movie educated us about the story’s universe. The final 75 minutes or so focused on the titular stone and gave us a more active narrative, but those elements seemed rushed and not as well-explored as they could’ve been.

The same issues affect Divergent. It comes with clumsy exposition burdened by superficial social commentary and it never manages to get a head of steam behind it.

This means the movie mostly feels like a set-up for future entries. Much of Divergent passes without much beyond basic character notes – information that could’ve been dispensed much more quickly/efficiently – so the story tends to plod without much to keep us interested.

When Divergent finally comes to its action climax, it feels half-hearted and almost gratuitous, like the filmmakers don’t want to bother with this material but they feel they must. The finale offers little pay-off for all the time spent with monotonous development, so it ends the movie on a lackluster note.

Perhaps future chapters will become more satisfying and I’ll change my mind about Divergent. Maybe those subsequent movies – three of which have already been planned – will work better due to the “pipe-laying” involved here. If so, I’ll indicate that impression when the time comes, but right now, I see Divergent as too slow and too dull.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus B

Divergent appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Across the board, the transfer impressed.

Overall definition worked well. If any softness materialized, it escaped me, as I found an image with tight, accurate delineation. I saw no shimmering or jagged edges, and the image lacked edge haloes or print flaws.

Like many modern action flicks, Divergent opted for a fairly teal palette; it also leaned toward an amber tone at times. Blacks were deep and dark, while shadows showed nice clarity and smoothness. Across the board, the movie looked terrific.

I also felt consistently pleased with the excellent DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack of Divergent. With an emphasis on action, the soundscape used all the channels on a frequent basis. The various speakers provided lots of information that filled out the movie and blended together in a seamless manner. This formed a dynamic soundscape with a lot to offer.

In addition, audio quality seemed strong. Music was bold and full, and even with a lot of looped lines, dialogue remained crisp and natural. Effects appeared lively and vivid, with clear highs and deep lows. I felt pleased with this impressive soundtrack.

The Blu-ray comes with a nice array of extras, and these begin with two separate audio commentaries. For the first, we get a running, screen-specific chat from director Neil Burger. He discusses visual and costume design, sets and locations, story/character areas, cast and performances, effects, stunts and action, and related topics.

For the most part, Burger gives us a good look at the film. On the negative side, he tends to simply narrate the movie a little too much of the time, particularly during its second half. Nonetheless, Burger usually delivers a reasonably well-rounded take on the flick and turns this into a generally positive chat.

With the second commentary, we hear from producers Lucy Fisher and Douglas Wick. They offer a running, screen-specific look at story/character domains, cast and performances, sets and locations, music, and a mix of other subjects.

While not devoid of informational value, the producer commentary sags too much of the time. We get a lot of dead air and remarks that just don’t tell us a whole lot. The occasional worthwhile nugget appears but this usually becomes a flat, boring track.

Under Bringing Divergent to Life, we locate a 47-minute, 17-second documentary. It includes notes from Wick, Fisher, Burger, author Veronica Roth, stunt coordinator Garrett Warren, production designer Andy Nicholson, unit production manager John J. Kelly, fight coordinator JJ Perry, key assistant location manager Adam Boor, stunt double Alicia Vela-Bailey, set decorator Anne Kuljian, senior visual effects supervisor Jim Berney, senior visual effects producer Greg Baxter, and actors Shaillene Woodley, Theo James, Jai Courtney, Ashley Judd, Zoe Kravitz, Maggie Q, Kate Winslet, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Miles Teller, Christian Madsen, Amy Newbold, Ashley Judd, Ray Stevenson, Mekhi Phifer and Ansel Elgort. The show covers story/character/adaptation areas, cast, training and performances, sets and locations, stunts and action, various effects and music.

Perhaps “Life” strikes me as a disappointment because I watched it right after I screened the awesome documentary for Amazing Spider-Man 2 - or maybe it’s just a mediocre show. “Life” covers all the appropriate topics, and it does so in a reasonably brisk manner. However, it simply feels superficial, as it comes with a breathless tone that conveys more of a sense of hype than I’d like. In the end, it’s a moderately informative show but not as deep as it should be given its running time.

A featurette called Faction Before Blood runs 14 minutes, 51 seconds and offers info from Woodley, Roth, James, Wick, Newbold, Elgort, Judd, Burger, Kravitz, Teller, Winslet, Phifer, Courtney, Fisher, Lloyd-Hughes, and actor Tony Goldwyn. “Blood” looks at the story’s various factions and aspects of their depiction in the movie. A few minor insights emerge but this feels like another insubstantial piece, as it doesn’t tell us much we don’t already know from the film.

Four Deleted Scenes go for a total of four minutes, 27 seconds. In these, we mainly get a little more from secondary characters; nothing substantial emerges in those domains. We also see a bit more of Tris’s training as well as her willingness to question the attitudes of the Dauntless folks. The scenes lack much merit.

Next comes a Music Video for “Beating Heart” by Ellie Goulding. It uses the standard formula that mixes movie clips with lip-synch footage. It integrates the two better than usual but remains a lackluster video.

A Poster Gallery presents 11 frames. These give us a decent look at some of the movie’s advertising.

The disc opens with ads for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, The Spectacular Now, The Fault in Our Stars and Step Up: All In. We also find two trailers for Divergent.

A second disc provides a DVD copy of Divergent. It includes all the extras except for “Bringing” and “Blood”.

On the surface, Divergent looks like a rip-off of other popular franchises – and it looks like that beneath the surface as well. With too much exposition and too little action, the movie plods and lacks much entertainment value. The Blu-ray delivers excellent picture and audio along with some erratic but usually informative bonus materials. I feel pleased with this release but the film itself does little for me.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.7777 Stars Number of Votes: 9
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