Divergent Blu-Ray Review

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The Movie: 7.2/10
A dystopian future is not a new idea. People have been writing stories about a future of peace and harmony through oppression and control, so let’s not pretend this time around we are going to be introduced to anything new. The thing is, this isn’t really a story about the future so much as it is about oppression of ideas, also not a new concept. When I see a  movie with an idea I’m interested in I tend to overlook the flaws or the loop holes here and there.  Divergent has those things, and sometimes they bugged me, like the weakness of the family bond our leading lady has with her parents and brother, so I had to divert my attention to the better stuff. Better stuff would be the overall take on the rebuilding of a society after a huge war. When everything crumbled the people left had to rebuild and chose a certain philosophy to control the masses. That would happen in real life, and to see various fictional ideas about it does interest me.

This post-war America has been designed almost like a psychological experiment. Personality types have been divided into 5 factions. There are the logical Vulcan type, the hippies, the self-sacrificing, the chronically honest type (I’m not sure why that is a group, so I’d have to ask the author about that one), and the wild brave militant folks. The self-sacrificing have been charged with running the government, the smart people with the sciences, the militants are the military and protection, the hippies grow the food, and the honest ones seem to be less functional and more symbolic but do play a role in the law keeping of the land. It’s a very clinical way of dealing with human beings for sure. I like it, it’s straight forward and uncomplicated, oh but wait, what about the “Faction-less”? That’s right, and what about the Divergents? Ahh all people can’t be put into these categories categorically, and ultimately society has to find a better way than to separate everyone.

We meet our Divergent young lady when she goes to take the test that determines your faction. THEY know that some people don’t fit anywhere and THEY are always watching. The government, the smart people, the logical ones, they want to nip anything in the bud that goes outside the system. This causes friction, danger, a threat to anyone who doesn’t stay inline with the structure of society. Sound familiar? We might not divide ourselves literally with red, blue, brown, black, or white clothing and live in completely separate communities in line with those divisions, but we do it more subtly and with a lot more cruelty for sure. I like Shailene Woodley, she does a good job with taking us through the entire movie, scene after scene. It’s a lot for a young actress to live up to, but I think she does the character justice. She’s tough but appropriately vulnerable at times. I wanted to know what was going to happen to her, and her cohorts, which is a good sign. Once I am not interested in the outcome for any character, my enjoyment level goes right down.

Kate Winslet is OK, and the leading guy is fine (forgot his name), with the rest of the almost ensemble cast, it’s just that I think they are interchangeable with other semi-generic performances (sorry about that Rose) whereas Woodley does seem a right choice for the lead.

Overall I enjoyed Divergent. The ideas are thought-provoking, the performances are good, not fantastic and sometimes a bit too Hollywood cool, but that can be overlooked. The special effects are pretty good and except for the crappy drawings of the destroyed city in the beginning, the vision of the future is distinct and imaginable. I would say Science Fiction moderates like myself, you know the types who like Star Trek AND Star Wars, will find it entertaining. I might even read the books that inspired the movie!!

Features: 8/10

  • Audio Commentary With Director Neil Burger – Director Neil Burger runs you through the movie, he pauses a little to often but there are some little gems in here.
  • Audio Commentary With Producers Douglas Wick & Lucy Fisher – Usually I like Director commentaries and dislike Producer commentaries as they are usually a little to business driven. Here it’s reversed and is a much more lively commentary than Burger’s. There are some very funny moments here, who says producers are boring and stuffy.
  • Bringing Divergent To Life – A four-part documentary detailing all aspects of the production, this is above average on my scale and actually has some interesting interviews with all the main players.
  • Faction Before Blood – A short feature detailing the five factions of the movie. I think I fall in the science category.
  • Deleted Scenes – Four minutes of deleted scenes, one is a little violent and would have given the movie an R rating if included.
  • Marketing Gallery – Trailers and promotional posters.
  • DVD & UV Digital Copy

Cover Art and Menus: 2/10
This cover has more CGI than the movie!! That is an exaggeration, of course, but gee whiz, it looks so crappy! Why not just use the people and their actual bodies and actual costumes? I would not have this as a poster. The menu is designed for the movie with graphics represented as factions in the story. It’s  not just boring navigation, so that’s a bonus.

Audio & Video: 9/10
Shot digitally using the Arri Alexa, Divergent is a great looking modern movie that really shines in High Definition. Lionsgate use the AVC codec to produce a pristine 1080P 2.40:1 transfer that is amongst the years best. The only problems I have with the film are how bad the CGI shots look because the movie looks so sharp in general. I saw no signs of noise, artifacting or black crush even under close scrutiny.

The lossless 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is exactly what you would expect from a 2014 blockbuster of this status, its huge noisy and packed to the gills with Ellie Goulding & Junkie XL’s score. Surround sound speakers are used a lot during the movie and dialog is never compromised. This is a booming soundtrack with subtle moments when needed, It’s sure to please the Young Adult movie fan in your household.

Overall Score 7/10