Post-apocalyptic Chicago is the setting for one of the most exciting first installments of a projected franchise in recent memory.
There are five factions: those belonging to Amity are happy and work carefree in the fields; the members of Candor speak the truth and work for justice; those forming Erudite have the greatest intelligence and work to achieve progress in all kinds of ways; those who comprise Abnegation work only for others, mostly the destitute and the factionless; and the Dauntless tribe protects the city and seemingly fears nothing.
The hero of Divergent, the first of three installments that make up the Divergent Universe, the brainchild of writer Veronica Roth, is Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley), a shy girl who has only known Abnegation her whole life but clearly doesn’t fit in. However, if you think this is another mediocre storyline featuring an outcast that is “The One,” or the Ugly Duckling trope, you have a wonderful surprise waiting for you.
The opening is glorious in two ways: first, the opening shot of a mostly desolate and war-ravaged Chicago. Most of the buildings are still there, and we immediately notice the Sears Tower (now the Willis Tower) proudly sticking out of the skyline, but something is off. And second, the setup of the story is surprisingly and satisfyingly short.
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(Still of Shailene Woodley, Ben Lloyd-Hughes and Zoë Kravitz in Divergent. Photo by Jaap Buitendijk – © 2013 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.)