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March 21st, 2014

Movie Review - Divergent


Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Ashley Judd, Jai Courtney, Zoë Kravitz, Ray Stevenson, Miles Teller, Tony Goldwyn, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Christian Madsen, and more.

Directed by: Neil Burger Screenplay by: Evan Daugherty and Vanessa Taylor Based on the Novels by: Veronica Roth Cinematography by: Alwin H. Küchler Music by: Junkie XL

Premise: Years after a war that destroyed most of the world, Chicago continues to function due to a five category split caste system. Beatrice and her brother have reached the age of choosing and go have the test which will show them which of the castes they are more aligned towards. Except the test in Beatrice's case came out as inconclusive, something the tester makes sure she understands and warns her not to tell anyone about. As Breatice struggles to make a decision on who she wants to be, she also starts getting an inkling that the system may not be functioning like it's supposed to anymore. (Rated PG-13)


1)  Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Shailene Woodley does a good job as the spunky and fearless Tris. Theo James was delicious as the aloof, mysterious, yet slowly warming teacher named Four. Kate Winslet deftly sent mixed signals and kept the audience guessing in her role as Jeanine.

2)  Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: Most of the special effects are subtle and are mostly in the background - the ship in the middle of the wheat fields, the giant mesh wall around the city, the compact wind turbines mounted on the sides of dead Chicago buildings.

In the drug induced sequences the special effects play a bigger part, and with some nicely imaginative segues. Tris's initiation ride after the war games was scary fun.  

3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: I've not read the series of YA novels the film is based on, so I can't give any kind of opinion on how faithfully rendered the movie was. Although, from all the clapping and whistling during several points in the film, it appeared that many of the fans were pleased.

There were definitely several elements seeded over the course of the film that grabbed my attention and not only warned of possible troubles ahead for our heroine, but the society she'd been raised in as well. Hints and bits of the political and social order and the bubbling issues beneath the surface get flashed here and there, as we follow Tris through the typical angst caused by bullies and the not so typical stress of getting thrown into a situation from which she and others might not survive.

There aren't many surprises in the story, but enough stuff is going on to entertain.

4) Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: The opening scene started with the mundane, then took a left turn. It spoke volumes without a single word being said. The sweeps of the remnants of Chicago were deftly done. The skyline seemed familiar yet also alien due to the broken spires and the turbines attached to them like extra growths.

Conclusion: "Divergence" was entertaining. The premise is unusual, although overall the plot was pretty standard. The visuals of the city and the imagery used in the mental tests for the choosing, and later to force the initiates to face their fears were rather cool.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating:  Worth Full Price of Admission)

Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic



(2015) Fantasy

The King is Dead! Long Live the Undead King!

"What are you implying?"

The magister glided forward and scrunched down beside him.

"That in order to bathe, you must first actually get into the bath."


(2014) Urban Fantasy

It took everything from her, except revenge!

The muscles in my right arm jerked from tension as I tried to make it move and it resisted. A shrill scream inside my head insisted I didn't want to do this. That if I did, there'd be no way to take it back. "I...I'm afraid."


(2011) Young Adult – Fantasy

Which is worse…the monster without or within?


Home—family—the two things he would never have, the two things forever denied him…because of her.

Anger welled inside him, the heat of it suffusing him to the core, gurgling with seething emotions the total opposite of the coolness splashing down from the fountain nearby. Before he realized what he was doing, Jarrin stepped inside the gazebo.

(2007) Young Adult – Fantasy
“Harry Potter meets Dragon Riders of Pern”


“Do you need any help?” she asked. “Just tell me what you want me to do. If you prefer, I’m sure I can round up at least a few people to come over and give you a hand.”

Kel slowly shook his head. “It’s all right. Thanks anyway.” His voice lowered to where she almost couldn’t hear it. “This is all part of my punishment.’

She frowned, not understanding what he meant. “Punishment?”

Kel cocked his head in Clarence’s direction. In a flash, she understood. None of this was an accident. Clarence had landed there deliberately, hoping to make Kel pay for all he went through in the past month. She shook her head, not wanting to believe this, but what the dragon said next took any doubts right out of her head.

(2008) Young Adult – Fantasy
“To save the world she must DIE! Or must she?”


Panic and fear filled with utter helplessness made her dizzy. She knew what would be done with her, she knew what they planned. But there was nothing she could do to stop any of it.

Sharp gasps echoed in her ears as she felt the room’s cold air caress the Eye.

“You were right. She is the one.”

(2002) Adult/YA – Japanese Fantasy Adventure
“The Last Samurai meets Pirates of the Caribbean”


Laying the blade on the floor before him, Toshi parted his kimono until his stomach lay exposed. He tucked his sleeves beneath his legs to hold him upright if he should falter. Ignoring Asano, he took up the blade. His shoulder flared with pain and he tried not to flinch, as he grabbed the blade with both hands. He turned the wakizashi until its sharp point was aimed at his belly, the residence of his soul.

(2004) Adult/YA – Fantasy Mystery
“He tried to forget his past, but his past wouldn’t forget him”


Torren took a step back a sudden shudder racking through him. It was as if he’d never left, as if the boy he’d been would be coming back-though the one who’d loved this room and all these things was long, long dead. That boy died when he’d watched his father’s blood pour forth from his mouth, the end of a sword protruding from his abdomen. That boy died when he survived while everyone else lay dead.

Info, sample chapters, and free reads at www.gloriaoliver.com

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