413 of 443 people found the following review helpful
on 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.
371 of 426 people found the following review helpful
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.
48 of 56 people found the following review helpful
Format: 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.
28 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2014
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.
19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 2014
Divergent is in fact divergent. It has elements of stories that may remind you of some other movies like The Hunger Games. That said it is unique and engaging, and still keeps the action fan in us happy. If you enjoy Science Fiction movies that are philosophical about a utopian society you will probably be pleased. I found it exciting, emotional, and intelligent. It isn't easy to combine those into a theme that doesn't seem either over the top ridiculous or mushy. It is successful in making us see a society of people divided into five factions. Although it seems perfect, inevitably someone gets the idea they are better for ruling the rest. In this case the supposed intelligent lawmakers. Was this a jab at lawyers? The peaceful agrarians that have been the decision makers are now in danger of being overthrown by the treacherous cold and calculating leader of the lawmakers. These lawmakers shouldn't be capable of such treachery and yet the leader somehow has convinced others like the leader of the law keepers it is for the greater good. Now to add a twist there are those in the society that could fit in anywhere they want because they have the makings of all, but this divergence is considered a threat and so they are ostracized and are killed or forced to flee the protection of the city. Perhaps a jab at our worldwide societies having difficulty finding rulers that have intelligence, compassion, and strength of character to stand up for everyone. I had heard mixed things about the movie, but I'm glad I decided to rent it. Although I thoroughly enjoyed and purchased both Hunger Games, I found this more thought provoking and I plan to add it to my library too. It seemed to me they left Divergent open for the possibility of a sequel, at least I hope so.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
I think it's interesting people compare this to the Hunger Games. After I finished the third book I thought to myself that both could exist in the same world. The movie though I felt was lackluster. Flat. The actress playing the lead did okay and I think it was the script that was to blame, but while we see Tris' determination to see things through, we never actually see her strength and bravery in the movie version. The chemistry was off too between her and Four. This is one of those if you read the books you will have a barely enjoyable time watching the movie but if you hadn't then you would probably really like it. Other issues regarding Peter, Edward, and Al. I think the movie strayed too far. I won't buy the movie. This one is a one view wonder.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2014
Films based on young adult novels are either a major hit or a complete miss. Each time one of these adaptations is released, the immediate reaction is to compare it to the successful (monetarily speaking, at least) novel-to-film endeavors, such as The Hunger Games, Twilight, or Harry Potter. But, with so many sub-par box office returns within the last few years from films like Beautiful Creatures, Vampire Academy, and The Host - these youthful adventures are starting to earn a bad rap. Why do some succeed while others miserably fail? In all honesty, it comes down to the feature film’s presentation and the plausibility of the story – plus it doesn’t hurt to have a recognizable face starring in the film. And, as all of this pertains to Divergent – it would appear (for the moment) the prospects are bright for the future of this potential franchise.
Based on the novel by Veronica Roth and directed by Neil Burger (Limitless, The Illusionist), Divergent stars Shailene Woodley as Beatrice Prior, the daughter of two prominent members of the Abnegation faction. In a post-war, desolate world that has been fenced-off from the rest of the world, Beatrice has reached the age where the time has come to take an induced placement exam that is supposed to tell her whether or not she should remain in her current faction or choose one of the other four very different factions – either Amity, Candor, Dauntless or Erudite.
After taking her exam, she is shocked to discover that her test results came back as divergent – a small fraction of the population that “think outside the box” and are heavily feared, by leaders like Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet), due to their ability to ask too many questions and disrupt the system. Keeping the test results to herself, she eventually decides to switch factions – joining the thrill-seeking, fearless Dauntless. However, new arrivals can’t just join the factions – they must prove and earn their place.
Initially, Beatrice (now going by the name Tris) finds it difficult to complete with her fellow new arrivals. She must learn how to fire weapons, complete in hand-to-hand combat, and avoid finishing in the bottom tier of her class – where she would become an outcast without a faction. However, Tris forms a bond with one of the Dauntless instructors, called Four (Theo James), who helps keep her motivated and prepared for whatever might come her way. And, even though it would appear that making Dauntless is her greatest obstacle, she eventually realizes there are far grander issues to consider as the other factions continue to be at odds with one another.
Much like Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games films, Shailene Woodley should be praised and commended for being able to take on such an emotion-filled character and giving her such a dominant onscreen presentation. Woodley, who is quickly rising through the ranks of young Hollywood actresses, proves that she has the ability to carry – not only a film – but also a franchise. To call her anything other than exquisite in this role would be a monumental lie and there’s little doubt that this film (critical acclaim or not) will propel her character even higher than its current trajectory.
While Woodley is the star of the film and incredibly enjoyable in her role, she is really outshined by the presence of newcomer Theo James. To many, he will be unrecognizable as his film resume is far from lengthy – but he is currently starring in the CBS drama, Golden Boy. In any event, James brings a secretive, brooding element to a film that would be completely different with any other actor. His role, not unlike David Boreanaz from his days of playing Angel, is slightly more powerful than everyone else around him. As the film progresses, so does his growing (and pleasant) chemistry with Shailene Woodley, and both of these characters find that they have far more in common than you could possibly imagine, at least based on their initial meeting.
The major antagonists of the film include Kate Winslet – whose character is almost a mirror image from the role that Jodie Foster played in the recent dystopian action flick, Elysium. Still, it’s nearly impossible to find a role in Winslet’s career where you can make the case that she performed badly. No, her character doesn’t have a huge role in the film, but her character carries enough weight that it needed a prominent actress like Winslet to sell the part. And, when Winslet is not around, the film has to rely on another rising Hollywood star to play the aggravating foe – Jai Courtney. Nearly the exact opposite of James’ character, Courtney portrays another Dauntless instructor, Eric – who has no problem inflicting his aggression on those that defy him.
The only real major downsides to this film are that it progresses in the same manner as all the other young adult films out. You have this protagonist that is special – almost like a ‘chosen one’ type character, who refuses to conform to the rules of society. The fact that this style of storytelling is far from original hampers it and holds it back from being anything more than your typical popcorn movie. And, this film does progress at a rather enjoyable pace, it feels like it takes too long to get to the climax, and once you arrive to that moment, the film attempts to do too much too quickly – forcing the film to feel like it has a pacing issue.
Overall, a case can be made for Divergent as being an exciting adventure, but also a case against it as being just another young adult film adaptation with the same old defiant characters and familiar plot progression. Where you land on that particular side of the fence will likely have to do with whether or not you’ve read the books and are a fan of those novels. By no means is Divergent better than The Hunger Games or Harry Potter, but it is eerily similar to Twilight – yet the acting is far superior to Twilight and even as engaging as The Hunger Games. Since Divergent is only the first film in a set of three popular novels, they likelihood that sequel, Insurgent, gets green-lit for a feature film will hang on the box office success of Divergent. But, at this state, it would appear the entire trilogy has an excellent chance of telling its full story on the big screen.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2015
Goodness, this movie is dumb. Five factions - Amity, Dauntless, Candor, Abnegation, and Erudite (three nouns, two adjectives), and you had BETTER fit neatly into one of these. For starters, who does fit neatly into just one of these? Almost nobody, that's who - there would be boatloads of "divergents." And what about the shopkeepers, lunch counter workers, taxi drivers - is there a group for them, or are grocery stores and such just a thing of the past? And how many of these stories about unexceptional teenage girls saving the world do we have to stomach before this brand of entertainment plays out? And just as a matter of curiosity, what possible purpose can a faction of people with "candor" serve, especially since the smart folk have a faction all their own? So, I wasn't smart enough or selfless enough for Erudite or Abnegation, but I'm honest. This is just plain goofy and not even half-way imagined.
31 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant Video
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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
Like many other book -> movie translations, it wasn't as true as you could hope, but there just isn't time for it all. Tris seems so much more gritty in the book than here, and that's the transition that really makes it special. It's this loss of character that keeps it at 3 stars for me. Still, the acting and action is good, and that makes for decent entertainment.