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Whenever I can, I like to know as little as possible about a movie I will be reviewing before seeing it. In the new media world that allows you to avoid commercial advertising, that’s not hard to do. Unfortunately, it sometimes lands me at movies that there is no point in my writing about, and this is a perfect example.

For any of you as clueless as me, it’s the latest attempt to cash in on the multitude of teenage girls who made the Twilight and Hunger Games series such endless revenue generators. Like the latter, Divergent is based on a best-selling trilogy of young adult novels set in a dystopian future. (That I have never heard of these books I blame on the fact that I neither am, nor do I reside with, a teen-aged girl. That there is apparently an entire genre of such fiction is a worrisome fact to be left for another discussion.)

The audience for this film is pre-determined and, I suspect, not interested in anything I have to say. For the rest of you in search of advice, I should begin by warning you that this is the first film of three. Apparently the only way you can make real money these days is with a trilogy. In the days when you hopes that your film would be a hit and spawn a demand for sequels, you did your best to make sure that the film was a self-contained piece of entertainment: You didn’t bring up all kinds of stuff that won’t be resolved until a movie or two down the line. Go to see this and, if you like it, you will be committing yourself to two more tickets to get the whole package.

That said, I can’t see Divergent generating the same kind of business as Hunger Games, try as it might to hew to the same template. (Star Shailene Woodley was clearly chosen for her resemblance to Jennifer Lawrence.) But the story is more abstract—I won’t try to summarize it beyond calling it an all-purpose allegory that will fit into any political perspective so long as it’s based on paranoia. And the production is much blander. There are no flashy performances from slumming stars a la Woody Harrelson and Stanley Tucci. There are special effects sequences that clearly cost a lot of money, but they go toe to toe with ones that look (and sound, in the tinny synth score) like they came from some direct-to-video production of the 1990s. (Think anything with Lou Ferrigno.)

Bottom line: If your kid wants to see it, drop her and her friends off at the multiplex and take in something else while you’re waiting.

Watch the trailer for Divergent

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