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347 of 373 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent adaptation but those who haven't read the book will enjoy it, too.
"Divergent" will inevitably be compared by many to that other YA book series, "Hunger Games." And while both books have strong young heroines, the books and movies are actually quite different. See the movie and judge for yourself. I went to see it with my family, but the theater had audiences of all ages - from older 40-50 something couples, to groups of...
Published 9 months ago by Marcy G.

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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Average
Had it been made with some more originality - or ten or more years earlier perhaps - "Divergent" would have received more positive reviews. Everything in this sci-fi fantasy action (based on Veronica Roth books) is so familiar, especially for those who have seen "The Hunger Games" and other young adult themed films, that you can almost predict what is happening next...
Published 4 months ago by Tsuyoshi


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347 of 373 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent adaptation but those who haven't read the book will enjoy it, too., March 22, 2014
"Divergent" will inevitably be compared by many to that other YA book series, "Hunger Games." And while both books have strong young heroines, the books and movies are actually quite different. See the movie and judge for yourself. I went to see it with my family, but the theater had audiences of all ages - from older 40-50 something couples, to groups of high school-college friends, to middle schoolers with their friends or families. I would recommend this to the same audience that went to see "Hunger Games" - PG-13 and up.

For those not familiar with Veronica Roth's book, "Divergent" is the story of Beatrice (Tris) Prior, a young lady living in futuristic Chicago. Due to post-war effects, their society is divided into 5 factions that represent 5 virtues - Abnegation (selflessness/service to others), Candor (honesty), Dauntless (bravery), Amity (peace) and Erudite (knowledge/learning). Those who do not belong to a faction (basically, ostracized from society) are called "factionless." When they come of age, they attend a ceremony to select the faction they will join for the rest of their lives. Most choose the faction they are born in, while others may "defect." During the pre-ceremony aptitude test, Beatrice is told that her test results were "inconclusive", meaning she doesn't see to belong to a specific group. They call this "Divergent." Their society views "Divergents" as dangerous so Beatrice must keep this secret to protect her life. When she chooses her faction, she meets her new mentor and trainer Four and the brutal Eric and forms friendships with other new initiates Christina, Will and Al. The physical and mental training (think "boot camp") is intensive and challenging and Tris needs to find a way to survive. She eventually finds an ally in Four, who isn't quite what he seems.

The movie does a great job introducing the faction-based society to audiences, so you don't need to have read the book to enjoy or understand the plot. Having read the book, I would say I am very satisfied with the casting choices and the outcome of the film. I would consider this a faithful adaptation to the book - some scenes were excised due to time constraints and/or continuity/flow, but this is understandable if you take into account the differences between the book vs. film medium.

In terms of casting, I admit I was skeptical about Shailene Woodley (Tris) at first. Physically, she doesn't quite match up to book Tris (who is supposed to be small and waif-ish). But Shailene has the ability to take on this role of a vulnerable and conflicted young woman at the beginning of the film who grows in strength and confidence as the story goes on. Some would say that Theo James is much older than his book counterpart, but I can clearly see why he was chosen to play the complex Four. Theo plays Four with quiet strength and charisma - he is an imposing authority figure, but there is some vulnerability a well. He won me over from the first scene and he and Shailene have an undeniable chemistry. Kate Winslet (Jeanine Matthews), Jai Courtney (Eric) and Miles Teller (Peter) are also stand-outs. The remaining main supporting cast are Tony Goldwyn and Ashley Judd (Tris' parents), Ansel Elgort (Caleb - Tris' brother), Ray Stevenson (Marcus Eaton) and Tris' fellow initiates Zoe Kravitz (Christina), Ben Lloyd Hughes (Will) and Christian Madsen (Al). They capture the essence of their book counterparts very well and, while they are currently relative unknowns, I can see bright futures for the young cast. (And, yes, girls and boys, whether intentional or not, there is a lot of "eye candy" in this movie. I get it. Even Jai Courtney's Eric looks good in a dangerous/tough guy sort of way). Four is my favorite character in the book series and I am pleased to see that Theo James more than lives up to expectations.

The film was shot in Chicago so the filmmakers had to perform some digital magic to make it look and feel like a post-war, dystopian society. Costumes and sets all look spot on. It all works. Director Neil Burger injects pace, energy and a sense of foreboding and danger to the film. As soon as Tris leaves her faction, the action kicks off. There are lots of fight scenes between the initiates and among various characters, and yes, there is violence akin to what you would see in the "Hunger Games" series. There is also a budding romance - and while it is not as heavy a focus as it is in the books, it is equally satisfying.

As a big fan of the first 2 books ("Divergent" and "Insurgent"), I was very satisfied with the outcome. So many books out there get ripped to shreds by the time they make it to film, so I am glad to see that the screenwriters were very diligent in capturing the essence of this dystopian world and the characters that we love so much, and did not feel the need to change the story drastically. The plot follows that of the book and several key scenes are intact (albeit shorter and more compact) - whatever changes are made are relatively minor in comparison. The main characters are there, and there are more minor characters that may have been excised or will make an appearance in the next film. We hope this movie does well enough so that "Insurgent" is made, because that follow-up brings us more dimension to the story and fleshes out the role of these characters. For example, Marcus Eaton, Jeanine Matthews, Caleb, Peter and the Candor, Amity and Erudite factions, and Four's background are expanded more in the second book and new characters will be introduced.

My family and I came out of this film having a few discussions afterwards. Overall the reaction was very positive and we all enjoyed it immensely, so much so that we are all planning to see it again. I would highly recommend this movie not just to the book fans, but those who enjoy futuristic, dystopian films. Young and adult alike in my household enjoyed this film so it works for a broad range of audiences.
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329 of 380 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the same old story, but told well, March 23, 2014
Nine Things about the Movie “Divergent”

1. This film is based on the first book of the popular young adult trilogy of novels.

2. If you haven’t noticed, contemporary young adult stories typically follow a set formula - an innocent kid joins a larger society and must be categorized. But then the kid discovers they are “special”, which causes problems for the society, and the kid must lose their innocence to survive in a dangerous world . Some recent examples are “The Hunger Games”, “Ender’s Game”, and the Harry Potter series. “Divergent” sticks to that exact same formula.

3. Just because you have seen this basic story multiple times does not mean the movie is bad. These kinds of stories are popular because it is the archetypal “hero’s journey” myth, and, if they are well-made, hit a nerve with us. Such movies can sometimes become classics - “The Wizard of Oz”, “The Lord of the Rings” and “Star Wars” are other, older examples of pretty much the exact same story.

4. Thankfully, “Divergent” is well done, and holds its own among its cinematic peers. It’s about a girl named Tris who takes a test (kind of like Harry Potter’s “sorting hat” or Ender’s training monitor) to discover which of five distinct factions she will become a member of (like Hogwart’s Houses or the Zones in “The Hunger Games”). But she is so special that the test breaks, and nobody knows what to do with her (like all the stories I just mentioned). So she must trust her gut and decide in secret.

4. Tris chooses her faction and begins her training, but she’s so gifted that she draws attention to herself, not only from her fellow classmates, but from her hunky instructor, too. And the leaders of another faction, who have controversial political aspirations.

5. The movie handles the usual themes well - conformity vs. independence, fear vs. bravery, and the trauma of growing up. But it also subtly asks a couple of bigger questions that are unfortunately not explored here; questions like “What is human nature, anyway?” and “While conformity may seem bad, what would happen if we were all independent?”.

6. The acting is decent, and the main characters have good chemistry. Thankfully, the movie delays the inevitable romance as long as it can, and tries not to let it get in the way of the bigger story.

7. Being aimed at young adults, there is not much blood or death, but some people may be surprised that there is a relatively high amount of violence, both explicit and implied.

8. The other two books, “Insurgent” and “Allegiant”, are expected to be made into movies and released in theaters in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

9. So yes, the story is old and predictable. No, “Divergent” won’t become a timeless classic. But if you aren’t just totally over this type of movie, it’s worth seeing. And it makes you realize why this same story keeps getting turned into movies over and over again: The issues that teenagers struggle with never go away. Mothers, fathers, sons and daughters are all dealing with the same existential problems. Only our perspective changes. And sometimes our choices.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars some of the scenes that I couldn’t quite picture in my head while reading the book came alive on the big screen., September 7, 2014
This review is from: Divergent (Amazon Instant Video)
I saw this movie opening weekend in the theater.

Admittedly I am really skittish about going to see book to movie adaptations, especially for books I loved. For someone who once helped run the TwilightMoms Site and avidly followed the filming of the first Twilight movie it’s strange to admit that I have only seen Twilight & New Moon. I never went to see the others because they just didn’t live up to the world and characters I had created in my head. I loved the Hunger Games but haven’t gone to see the movies. I probably will sometime. Maybe when the final movie is out. I hear their pretty well done but I just haven’t been able to make the leap yet because the cast doesn’t match the ones in my head.

I was however excited to see Divergent on the big screen. I liked this clip. It seemed like they got the casting and story-line right when I watched it.

I read Divergent over 2 years ago and loved it. I think having such a long time between reading the book and watching the movie made it easier for me to enjoy the movie. If all the details had been fresh in my mind I would have likely been annoyed at the changes that were made. I know there is no way to fit everything into a movie but all too often there are too many thing changed or interpreted differently than I envisioned them leaving me disappointed.

Overall I thought Divergent was one of the better book to movie adaptations I’ve seen. It was much darker and more violent than the way I saw it in my head as I read the book. However some of the scenes that I couldn’t quite picture in my head came alive on the big screen.

The PG-13 rating comes mainly from the violence – there is a lot of it. The sexual content and language were fairly mild for a PG-13 rated movie but there was a little of both.

Will I see the next movie Insurgent? Probably. I didn’t love Insurgent the book as much as I did Divergent but I maybe the movie will change my mind. Will I see the 3rd (& 4th one because they are splitting book 3 into 2 movies)? Only if I love Insurgent. I’m a happily ever after kind of girl and didn’t love the way Allegiant ended.
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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Average, July 27, 2014
By 
Tsuyoshi (Kyoto, Japan) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Divergent (DVD)
Had it been made with some more originality - or ten or more years earlier perhaps - "Divergent" would have received more positive reviews. Everything in this sci-fi fantasy action (based on Veronica Roth books) is so familiar, especially for those who have seen "The Hunger Games" and other young adult themed films, that you can almost predict what is happening next.

The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic Chicago, where the entire population is divided into five factions based on their dispositions. Shailene Woodley ("The Descendants") is Beatrice Prior, 16-year-old daughter of an "Abnegation" family, who decides to be "Dauntless" at the Choosing Ceremony.

We don't know why she should choose that group whose sole interest seems to be doing parkour. That doesn't matter; the point is, renamed as "Tris," she struggles to survive the tests, and finds herself slowly attracted to the mysterious instructor Four (Theo James).

Directed by Neil Burger ("The Illusionist" "Limitless"), "Divergent" is 140 minutes of very average fun. The lead players are both very good, but the concept of "Divergent," those who can think independently, is not fully explored. I hope the studio will come up with new ideas that are more interesting for the planned sequels.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a viable society, boring movie, August 12, 2014
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The movie was ok but I'm glad I rented it and didn't buy it. It was slow and took way to long to get to any action or the main purpose of the plot. The way society was portrayed didn't seem viable; what purpose did having 20% of the population be "candor"? Speaking the truth doesn't seem like an occupation, they didn't seem to have any connection with the government. Who manned the stores, picked up the trash, who were the doctors? Being ex military the training seemed very wasteful in that 20% of all recruits had to fail and be thrown out in the waste pile on non factions? What society can afford to waste so many young adults? Too much of the movie was spent on brutal training that didn't add anything to team work and seemed destined to kill some of the recruits. There was no explanation about why the Mom changed factions, why the brother selected a different faction, the movie didn't make any sense.
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46 of 64 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Are you kidding me?, August 7, 2014
I normally do not rate movie but this was an exception. I really like Sci-Fi so I was interested in this movie but never got to see it in the Theater. Positive were unique graphics and well done sets. Negative were: The movie is a combination of: "Enders Game", "Hunger Games", "Harry Potter" and a Harlequin Romance novel. The storyline feels used up and 10 minutes into the movie I felt like I had been sitting there for an hour...actually I felt like I was at the DMV waiting to get my license renewed. I mentioned the previous movies as the: costumes, vignettes and oratory seemed like they were directly lifted from other movies....it is all predictable to the extreme. The main character does not come across as a smart and tough young woman...instead she comes across as a Mall Rat who misses her IPhone while being truant from a PE class. I rented this from Redbox and returned it feeling like I should kick the machine for cheating me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Cheaply cast & produced attempt to capitalise on Hunger Games success, November 16, 2014
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This review is from: Divergent (DVD)
I suppose that with all the hype about it I should have realised that it had no merit of its own, but I didn't.

When I finally got the copy from the library and finished watching it, I was sorry I'd wasted my time--and glad I hadn't bought a copy! Predictable stock plot, characters that don't appeal, and a forgettable ending (really! I can't remember how it ended, it made so little impression).

Now there's apparently a second film in the same series, which made me think of the third Crocodile Dundee film, where a crooked film company made "Lethal Agent", which bombed, so they made "Lethal Agent II", which also bombed, and were in the process of making "Lethal Agent III". I doubt that this "Divergent" sequel is a coverup for skulduggery the way the "Lethal Agent" ones were, but judging by "Divergent" it won't be any more appealing.

I'd say maybe it's just that I'm very far outside their target demographic, but I quite like the Hunger Games trilogy, both the books and, so far, the films.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another post-apocalyptic teen, April 4, 2014
This review is from: Divergent (DVD)
Not that that's a bad thing, especially since this and recent like it have been very well done (*). The dystopic society has been split into five "factions," apparently forgetting just how badly that "separate but equal" thing has worked in our world. This system has built-in tensions, as one faction has control of the government, but a second faction takes control of the military, which itself is another faction. That all plays out well enough and, without the frustration of real cliff-hanger, paves the way for a sequel. Then there are those like our heroine, Tris, who lies outside any of the neatly defined roles demanded by the social power structure ...

Good one, on the whole. Plenty of action while staying close to the "humanly possible" range, interesting portrayal of the evil intellectuals, gritty "basic training" sequences - but I found the segregation of newcomers and natives inadequately explained. Likewise, the lack of hormonal involvement when teens of both sexes are thrown together in privacy-deficient living quarters. Especially when those young men and women are so whole-heartedly devoted to their physical selves, and to physical awareness of others. Oh, there's more than a hint of something simmering for Our Heroine, but it's surprisingly chaste - well, that's better than the pasted-on romantic involvements that so many movies suffer.

Good entertainment, but not one for the ages.

-- wiredweird

(*) I mean, this seems well done as movies - I haven't read the books and can not comment on them as adaptations.
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25 of 35 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars If you like the book, you will hate the movie, July 29, 2014
Did not follow book at all! Maybe if i had never read the books and wasn't obsessed with the story, i would be okay with this movie, maybe.. But the book was about war, about struggles... people die, and more than anything she doesn't freaking say I LOVE YOU!!!! That's a HUGE part of the book is their strained relationship. This movie is a nickelodeon teenage romance at the most.
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15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars >>>> Divergent vs. Hunger Games <<<<, April 4, 2014
This review is from: Divergent (DVD)
Let's examine this without providing any Divergent (DV) spoilers...
First, why compare it to The Hunger Games (HG)? It is difficult not to. Both are post-apocalyptic, take place in dystopias, ultimately embody the same messages, and target primarily the same viewership age. As a side note, I find it somewhat hopeful (rather than pessimistic) that the popular YA novels these films are based upon are set in these circumstances; it provides the opportunity for critical thinking about what our society should become, or more importantly, not become. Anyway, on to the contrasting...

^^Action^^
If action is what you want, you'll get it in DV, although you'll need to be patient. DV isn't an action film per se, so if action is what floats your boat, maybe consider another movie.
The Hunger Games had some intense fight-to-the-death scenes, but Divergent wins in the action category.

^^Emotional impact^^
Whereas HG tugs at your heartstrings with the death of Rue, DV somehow just didn't pull this off. Sure, people important to the protagonist are killed off in DV, but there was no parallel to the spreading flowers over Rue's body that worked so well in HG. Divergent does have more feel-good moments than HG, as when our heroine passes her many tests and wins her many battles.
Overall though, The Hunger Games wins in the emotional impact category.

^^Plot^^
The first hour is not all that impressive. It starts to come together after that (DV is a long film at 139 minutes; oddly enough, HG is almost exactly the same duration). They do an acceptable job of keeping you guessing about who is wearing a white hat and who a black hat, which is one reason the 2nd hour is more engrossing. It is difficult to tell from either film which underground movement (against the powers that be) is stronger. The resistance in DV seems weaker (as only a tiny percent of the population is divergent), but neither film goes into enough detail about this. I guess that's part of the problem with doing trilogy films based on books: we can hope more will be revealed later, but they may not be able to squeeze it in. If you are looking for a love story, DV will be your cup of tea. The central theme of HG was very creative, but ultimately the plot of DV is just more complex (and thus more engaging, at least for me). Despite its teen vibe and the unshakable notion that I've witnessed most elements of it in numerous sci-fi productions, Divergent wins.

^^Actors^^
Divergent did okay with casting, but HG did better. I have the benefit of being able to judge this without the bias of having read either of these YA novels. Jennifer Lawrence (HG) is difficult to beat as the central character, but Shailene Woodley (DV) also excels in her role as the girl who didn't ask to be a hero. It's practically a toss-up between the two films when taking into consideration all of the major and minor roles, but the caliber of actors seems to me superior in HG.

^^Cinematography^^
HG arguably had the better cinematography. DV did okay in its sets and locations, but the CGI distracted from the story at times.

^^Urge to see next in the series^^
I saw the sequel to HG as soon as possible, but I have to say I am looking forward more to the DV sequel due to the plot possibilities. HG feels limited as to where it can go, being based around the games.

So, which film is "better"? That depends on what you want out of a film. If you are looking for an exact reproduction of the books on screen, then I have no idea. In the end it doesn't really matter which is better, since both films are worth watching. I rate them at 3.5 or 4 stars, with Hunger Games being marginally preferred.
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Divergent
Divergent by Lionsgate
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