22 March 2014 | HaveWisdomWillTravel
Divergent is A Divergent which also means Most Viewers Will Like It & Majority of Professional Critics Will Fear and Bash It
I won't compare Shailene with JLaw, who I like. Basically, Shailene has presence, her acting authentic, she delivers what this role called for, and that's that. I want to address the audience's favorable response versus the ridiculous professional critic scoring.
Of course the film is not perfect, in a way Gravity or Hunger Games are not perfect. But why should it be? Of course it has flaws, like, the typology of the factions - where is the Artist/Creatives? Without imaginative power we will all die of boredom or fascism. Also, Intellectuals/Scientists and Straight-talking Factual sort tend to flock together, too similar to be separate factions. The parent characters under-used, the girl feels a little over-coddled...etc.
Still, no big narrative crimes, nothing deserving a hysterical fail rating. Those who never read the book, who have enough open-mindedness, with hope only to be engaged and entertained, will likely enjoy the ride. The premise was interesting enough, the direction and styling effective, the movie's story world construction well-executed, the story-telling and pacing engaging, the acting performance by the two leads and Winslet and Maggie Q well-balanced, believable and non-jarring, the resolution was convincing enough...
So what's up with the 40%/ 4 stars hysteria among the pro critics? I have my theories...
In general movies get anywhere between 1:1, 1:2, or 2:1 audience love it VS critic love it ratio. This one got 2:1. Which means, the film not only hit the right note with a progressive crowd, it also diverged greatly from an unspoken dogma. 40% pro critic here and elsewhere, wow, obviously Divergent hit a sensitive nerve with the film industry's Erudite equivalent. It seems, Divergent the movie is itself a divergent in its own context, a potentially uncontrollable menace to a rigid, retentive, non-divergent, evidently HOMOGENEOUS English language film critic culture...
But in this case, I'd go by the Audience's score. For starters, a 1000000X larger sampling size is always more objective than a few hundred homogeneous Erudites.
My rule is, movies with 1:1 audience:critic ratio, the rating is most objective. 1:2, the truth is somewhere in between. But if it's 2:1, the critics are upset about some game-changing "threats", and the truth leans strongly toward the audience. Works for me anyway... I call this the AUCRIT Ratio. Feel free to test it yourself.
I've never read the book. I do keep my expectations on neutral when watching a mainstream big-concept film - especially yet another adapted post-apocalyptic science fiction targeting young adults.
Those who expect futuristic science fictions to have primarily male leading characters esp in power positions, invincible biological strength, brute force solution, outcomes determined by technology especially Very Cool Weapons, non-stop magical actions, hot sexy androids and fetish costumes will be disappointed.
Those who *demand* award-winning plot and "logical" science in futuristic fiction movies are just being hysterical, for they tend not to notice the fantastical magic, bad physics and overkill tech in their "serious classic" science fictions - from star trek, star wars, 2010, batman to iron man are equally full of gaping logical holes, mostly with no award-winning plot-craft.
Truth is, "hard" science is evolving constantly, and science fiction flicks are not made to be 100% accurate or to win awards (if so Blade Runner still wins today), but to explore possibilities in highly-compressed scenarios, to inspire, to enlighten, and foremost, to entertain.
In today's myopic, easily self-satisfied world which classifies and judges people by preconceived notions about ethnicity, gender, profession, appearance, merits, we are constantly divided by rigid specialization, subjective education qualification rules, redundant scientific dogmas, simplistic morality yardsticks, always under pressure to choose factions: With-Us-Or-Them, for or anti welfare/ abortion, JLaw-vs-Hathaway, Pepsi or Coke, the in-betweens be damned.
Identity by Tribe (and inevitably the side-effect of xenophobia and authoritarianism) is a timely topic, how The Power That Be and their obedient citizenry react to the exceptional, multi-talented, multifaceted generalists who dare to defy categorization.
And this is no Twilight. More Hunger Games meet Enders Game. Definitely gender-neutral in appeal, at least among under 30's. Not everything with strong female lead written by female authors equates Hunger Games or Twilight or Harry Porter. Some ancient mindsets need to get used to the brave new world with the other half of the human population, women, being visible half of the time.
The lead actors also defy categorization in their own way. Here's yet another hot young male lead who has brain and brawn and talent and emotional depth all rolled into one person...yet another intelligent and talented and cute young female lead who doesn't over-groom herself nor perpetually pout nor seem like she's out to please everyone or martyr herself. Does the world need more unaffected chicks and unassuming hunks? Of course, there's never enough of those on screen.
Divergent may not be The Matrix or Inception grade, but why should it be. I was definitely engaged and entertained. Good enough for me.