Movie Reviews

Divergent and The Grand Budapest Hotel

By Kersley Fitzgerald

Yeah, I think it would hard to find two movies that were more different. But they're the movies I saw last weekend.


Unlike The Hunger Games, the movie Divergent was completely new to me, baring what the trailers showed. Like The Hunger Games, it's about a girl who is different and must make difficult choices for survival in a strictly-controlled future society.

I didn't know it was the first of a trilogy. Or set in post-apocalyptic Chicago. Or that the author is currently 25. Or that she's a Christian.

I don't know if it's because the author is young or because it was just the story she wanted to tell, but Divergent isn't as deep and metaphorical as The Hunger Games. I didn't really see it as a commentary on modern society. When they turn 16, kids are given an aptitude test to see which of the five factions (Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite) they are best suited for. Shortly after, on Choosing Day, they must select the faction they will live and work with for the rest of their lives. Most stay with the faction in which they grew up. To choose another is alternatively seen as independently knowing oneself and rejecting one's parents. It's not giving anything away that isn't on the trailer to say that the protagonist, Beatrice (or Tris), tested positive for three factions — a condition known as "Divergence," which would normally make her an outcast, but in the current political situation would get her killed if anyone found out.

The only larger message I could see in the plot was the way some in the church like to pigeon-hole people. The factions felt like extreme versions of spiritual gifts (or spiritual assumptions), and I've seen where, whether because of need or carelessness, some church members aren't allowed to express who they really are, instead being forced to stick with a particular ministry. For example, a friend who was relegated to nursery duty despite her talent as a singer.

But that's not really a huge issue (unless you believe women should be senior pastors). The only other overt Christian theme I saw was that the leaders are first and foremost humble servants.

At any rate, Divergent was good. Not as dark as The Hunger Games. There are tragic scenes, including the recovery of a body after a boy kills himself. In one scene, when facing her fears under a hallucinogen, Tris has to fight off the sexual advances of a friend. Some language, lots of violence, a couple of kisses.

I'm not letting my 12-year old son see it, but I enjoyed it.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson wrote and directed The Grand Budapest Hotel, and I could feel elements of his Fantastic Mr. Fox in it. It stars Ralph Fiennes as a concierge who is well-known for catering to all his guests' needs.

I like silly and surreal, so I laughed through it. It had a similar tone to Babe. Unfortunately, there were a couple of shots (and quite a bit of language) that were only thrown in for shock value and didn't do anything for the plot. Dev likened it to Monty Python, but I think it had more of a plot than that.

If you like silly, wait for it to come out on TBS.

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Published 4-8-2014