So the last few days have been heavy on hype for Summit Entertainment’s upcoming adaptation of Veronica Roth’s best-selling young adult novel Divergent. There was a brief synopsis laying out the core plot details, an infographic that shed a little more light on the five factions of the story, and, of course, 13 seconds worth of footage from the film. All of this was a build up towards the money shot, which happened yesterday at MTV’s Video Music Awards, when the studio debuted the first teaser trailer for the film. Everything else was really just a teaser for the teaser.
If you’ve been paying attention, or are familiar with the books—of course there are more than one, as everyone wants a series—then this trailer doesn’t tell you anything particularly new or exciting, but it’s nice to finally put some concrete images with the ideas. You get more in depth with Shailene Woodley’s heroine Beatrice “Tris” Prior. In the dystopic Chicago of the nearish future, once you hit 16, you take a test that decides which of five factions you’ll join based on your dominant personality trait. There’s Dauntless, Candor, Abnegation, Arudite, and Amity. You can see that it makes new recruits a little nervous, it’s just deciding their entire life. No big deal.
As Kate Winslet’s villainous looking character, Jeanine Matthews, says, this is a world where you need to know where you belong. And when Tris is determined to be divergent, or having equal aptitude for multiple groups, she is a woman without a country, so to speak. Her kind apparently can’t be controlled and play by their own rules. Along with her hunky new boyfriend, Four (Theo James), she must uncover a plot to kill all the divergents, and find out what makes them so dangerous in the first place.
The studio hopes that Divergent will be the next franchise to pick up some of that Hunger Games money. And though you’ll laugh a couple of times, like when Tris, in all seriousness, tells someone not to try to define her, this feels like the most likely of the current candidates to cash in on the teen dystopia market. It has a strong cast, and the story, characters, and world building seem more complete and thorough than The Maze Runner, which comes out the month before Divergent. And this past weekend saw an adaptation of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones fall flat on its face, so this film seems to be in as good a position as any to be successful. Summit has even given it a March 21, 2014 release date, the same slot where the first Hunger Games movie did blockbuster business.
Roth’s books have been described as a lighter version of Suzanne Collins’ trilogy, and while there is more depth than some YA franchises, they apparently don’t quite measure up to the best of the genre. Still, they’re ridiculously popular, so we’ll see how that translates into ticket sales come next spring.