From Ascension to Divergent

I’ve just finished watching the 2014 series of Ascension. If you’ve not seen it and might want to then you should stop reading now.

For those of you that have seen it you’ll know of the twist part the way through that reveals that the crew of the space ship aren’t actually flying through space but are part of a project on Earth, I suppose, to create/detect human beings developing strange abilities through being in confinement as if they were stuck on a space ship in such a way.

I had wondered prior to the revelation whether they were really aboard an actual space ship. It seemed a little too far fetched, either that or the show was ill-thought-out. As it turned out my inkling was correct but I still think the show has ill-thought-out issues. Namely the annoyance at the crew having an endless supply of booze on board – there’s pretty much someone having a good drink in every episode – they have a variety of clothing, books, “hand held computers”, presumably with an endless supply of batteries, that and a small beach on what part of the “craft”, that and the seemingly mandatory sex scene in virtually all episodes, these things grated on me.

In the end it turned kind of Mulder and Skully, although I did quite like some of the music in the final episode; the scene with the rain caught my ear, but would it really have “rained” that much following a buildup of CO2? It seemed a little OTT to me. Sadly I can’t find a copy of this scene on Youtube to share with you.

The “critical reception” section on Wikipedia stated that “The characters in Ascension lack the depth necessary for its dramatic elements, but its premise may be smart enough to hold the interest of sci-fi fans.” Yeah, if I was a sci-fi fan (I’m not sure what the requirements are for that) I’d probably take offense with that statement.

The whole concept of the crew being confined to their “ship” reminded me of the Blast from the Past film when during the cold war a family went to live in a bunker, and thinking the world was virtually destroyed, ended up staying there. The City of Ember is a prime example of this idea as is another aspect; the process of choosing people’s careers for them, or even their partners.

It then just so happened that the next thing I found myself watching was the film Divergent (also 2014); I’d picked up a secondhand copy of the DVD during the week before I’d watched the final episode of Ascension, which not only has its leading role reminding you of the Hunger Games, but a variety of other aspects too: the factions, and how those new to the Dauntless faction have to undergo training which involves fighting each other pretty much to the death. The concept of factions, or “classes” if you will, and the large food hall, reminded me of Harry Potter. And if my head wasn’t already spinning with these connections with other films, right at the end I recalled The Tomorrow People; Divergents are almost akin to those, just not so superpowery.

And there I read it on the Wikipedia page for the Divergent film:

Several critics have compared the film unfavorably with other young adult fiction adaptations such as Harry Potter and, predominantly, The Hunger Games.

I have now learned that the film is based on a novel by Veronica Roth, and that there is now a trilogy plus a fourth book of short stories. While I enjoyed Divergent the film I don’t think I’ll seek out the books (or other films) like I normally would since I found it too similar to the other aforementioned things.

Divergent: “If you don’t fit into a category, they can’t control you.”

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