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Divergent Movie Review

imgresDivergent, in which non-conformist, “divergent” Tris saves the day with her imitation of Katniss Everdeen in a dark ghetto-type place that resembles the basement sets of Oliver. Apparently the Divergent novels by Veronica Roth follow the same “young girl finds herself as she saves the day” plot that we first saw in the Hunger Games series. Even though the two stories are the pretty much the same, it’s nice to finally have action heroes who are girls, and I for one stand by both movies for that reason alone. Let’s have a few more girls show their faces. What is the real difference between Superman and Spider Man when you get right down to it?

As far as Divergent as a stand alone movie is concerned, I can’t really complain, nor exclaim.  There is not a moment when you wish it would come to an end. That’s good right? It’s compelling from the get-go. I feel like I’m searching here for something to say. Let’s go to the acting. I think that acting in these larger-than-life scenarios is in a way more difficult than acting in believable real-life scenarios like 12 Years a Slave. It is. Making a conversation between Han Solo and Chewbacca look authentic is much harder than you realize, and I for one do not think Harrison Ford ever got the credit he deserved for pulling it off. And Divergent calls for some of those unbelievable moments to appear believable, so kudos to all the actors for making me believe a society like this could actually exist, when I don’t really believe it can.

I love that Shailene Woodley’s Tris, is a real girl who mirrors so many of our teens today. She looks like a girl you might actually see on the street, like Jennifer Lawrence before she became Jennifer Lawrence, the Media Darling. She’s good without make up. Cute. Strong. She doesn’t look like a dork when she runs, and she can act. Good for her. I would be happy to have her be a mirror to my daughter’s viewing of the film. Sarah, my fabulous child, who I’m not allowed to mention in any blog, is now 27, and she had no action hero to call her own in her tweens. Buffy the Vampire Slayer? I mean seriously. So, bras off to Shailene (and Jennifer) for giving the girls something to aspire to.

Here is the kicker though. Both Katniss and Ms. Tris are female action figures. Don’t think I’m not grateful that action-figure women like them are finally finding a place in mainstream films. The problem is that in the storylines, as written, would not succeed without the love interest of the boys who fall for them. Katniss would have failed if her wannabe boyfriend, Peeta, hadn’t saved her. The public didn’t love her because she could shoot an arrow better than Robin Hood. They loved her because Peeta loved her. And poor Tris has the same situation. Four teaches her how to survive, and he teaches her to do her action-figure stuff. Without him she doesn’t make it.

Spider Man would succeed without the love of Mary Jane. She makes him more fun to watch, but she does not give him his superpowers. Nor did Lois Lane provide Superman with his. Can’t we create female superheroes who are more interesting because they are attractive to the men in their lives, without needing those men to make them the superheroes they are? Just asking. I’m not complaining, mind you; I’m glad they’re showing up at all. But please stop having them need the guy to get the job done. They don’t.

Lastly, when you watch the movie—and this is not a spoiler, I promise—ask yourself just who is driving the train? Seriously.

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