Monday, March 31, 2014

Divergent - And Other YA

I haven't read Veronica Roth's Divergent trilogy yet. As sometimes happens it came on my radar when I saw a trailer for the movie - and I have a policy of avoiding the book until I've seen the movie if I find out about them at the same time. This is in part because of the general rule of "the book is better."

So, please bear with me. I'm going to say - overall, I liked this movie, even if it is part of the current rash of YA dystopia (They're also doing "The Giver"). After an unspecified war, Chicago is left high and dry, with Lake Michigan having receded (I suspect we're supposed to think Nuclear Winter here). Its surviving population, believing themselves to be the last of mankind, have set themselves up into a sort of bizarre twist Brave New World via aptitude testing. They're divided into five factions based off of human virtues: Amity (kindness) provides the food, Candor (truthfulness) runs the legal system, Dauntless (courage) defends the settlement from unspecified "monsters" and also acts as police, Erudite (intelligence) does R&D and Abnegation (selflessness) runs the welfare system...and the government. The main character, Beatrice, is the daughter of a leading politician and is now facing her coming of age - in which she will choose which faction she will be a member of as an adult.

Before the choosing, she's subjected to an aptitude test designed to determine which of the five virtues is ascendent in her personality and help her make the best choice...except it doesn't work on her. She's a Divergent - somebody who breaks the faction system (and is at least partially immune to brainwashing and mental control).

This was a very cool movie. The visuals of the half-destroyed Chicago, the insane electric fence surrounding the city, and the various sets were fantastic. Shailene Woodley does a great job as Tris and the chemistry between her and Four is better than I've seen lately. Oh, and Kate Winslet knocked her role out too.

Here's my question, though. If we can have Divergent, why can't we have Scott Westerfeld's Uglies? Better yet, why can't we have some of these people involved in making it? The visual feel was very similar to that series.

Answer: Scott Westerfeld is wholly underrated. Yes, I'm a fan of his, but I'd really like to see him get a true breakout.

Or an Uglies movie. How about it?