Sci-fi films can sometimes offer the most definitive experience on screen, but sometimes they can show a concept that may be harder the grasp with an audience. The film Divinity falls on the latter as it is an example of an indie art flick that brings an unusual way of storytelling to give that weird vibe that carries throughout the film. Premiering at the Sundance Festival as part of its NEXT category, Divinity falls under the arthouse cinema that is more of a mind trip throughout its whole run time. Produced by Steven Soderbergh, Divinity fully embraces the weird aspects of its premise but also provides a unique experience for the viewer.
Taking place in an alternative future, Divinity follows the impact of scientist Sterling Pierce (Scott Bakula) who has dedicated his life to finding immortality. His discovery leads him to create a groundbreaking serum known as Divinity. It is years later when his son Jaxxon Pierce (Stephen Dorff) carries on his father’s legacy where he manufactures the product into a drug, causing the world’s population to become immortal, but at the cost of making most of humanity infertile. Two alien brothers (Moises Arias and Jason Genao) arrive with a plan to kidnap Jaxxon. Things don’t go to plan with the arrival of a sex worker named Nikita (Karrueche Tran). The story also follows a tribe of women led by Ziva (Bella Thorne) whose sole mission is to save the planet from the effects of Divinity.
Watching Divinity is shot with a theme in mind that replicates the old sci-fi shows of the 50s and 60s. The aesthetic of the movie gives that old sci-fi feel since it’s all in black and white. Most of the film is shot inside a big palace-like structure in the middle of the desert. The setting shows just how isolated it is from the rest of society, which is something that is carried out very much throughout the film. There’s also the stop-motion animation during a big fight scene that also is reminiscent of the old classic sci-fi programs. Even the prosthetics used on Dorff show just how well the production is for a lo-fi film such as this.
Even though it films like an old sci-fi tale, there are some modern takes that mirror the real world. Divinity asks the questions of immortality and preservation for the better of oneself or the entire race. It holds especially true in this post-pandemic world that everyone is living in. Director Eddie Alcazar is posing these questions to the audience while creating a sci-fi story at its center. The world that is built in this movie creates some impressive sets and sounds mixed in. After working on several shorts, Alcazar puts an effort to bring his bizarre vision of this world into a feature narrative.
The acting here is pretty minimal but leaves a big impact on the action and emotions of the cast. Even though Dorff is the main star, he is mostly on screen through mostly prosthetics to show his transformation into a steroid beast. Most of the story falls on our three young stars Arias, Genao, and Tran. This group puts on an incredible performance showing the bond that they all show. Tran might be the standout out of the three due to her enchanting presence. It is thanks to Tran’s character that the brothers learn a lot about humanity and how much of a danger Divinity poses to the planet.
The film doesn’t offer too much explanation of what’s going on, giving the audience some clues when it comes to the story. It is a complex plot, but viewers will be completely engrossed in the world that Divinity is trying to build. Sometimes the narration from Tran during the second half of the film can take one out of the film, but it doesn’t completely sour the cinematic experience that the movie offers. It is a thought-provoking piece of work that will keep everyone invested until the film’s epic conclusion.
Divinity is a film that can be described as out-of-this-world and covers all the bases for a sci-fi film. If audiences can get into the black-and-white aesthetic of the movie, it will be a rare experience that one can’t get to see in the theater that often. The film fulfills its purpose to create a one-of-a-kind sci-fi adventure that questions the morals of humanity as a whole. It may scratch some heads once the movie comes to its end, but it will start conversations about the lengths one may take to preserve their youth and what is worth saving.