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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.
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on December 7, 2017
Awesome Movie! One of my favorites! If you like sequels then this is definitely for you! This is the first of 3 movies that are currently available to watch. The 2 main characters have a awesome chemistry and a building relationship onscreen. It’s romantic in ways for the hopeless romantics, but jammed packed with action for those who favor that type of movie. Great Cast, Love
Ashley Judd and Kate Winslet as Suppoorting actors! If anyone has any questions about this film please feel free to ask me! I’ve watched it a million times and still Love it! Definitely a Great Movie!
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on July 15, 2017
Divergent is the first of three , the first one is about a couple of kids that to decide on
how there lives are to be in the future,by taking a test and the results will let them know
what side there on and with this , they will have ti leave there family
Divergent is the best of the best and if your test result shows this, most likely
you will be killed, this part of the movie is focused on the test itself
trish(shalene woadley)- passes her test and gets her buttt kicked,
and is saved by one of the leaders and she manages to fight the final fight in this series
against the leader of the whole world, played kate winslett, it will make you cringe and you could say, love was found,
this movie is good and if you ever watched HUNGER GAMES, this will put your mind in the same place, there was more than one part of that series as well, if you liked it, you will love this one!!
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This is the only Divergent series film really worth watching more than once. The other films in the series you will watch just to see what happens. But the original Divergent has some real meat to it.
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on February 10, 2018
I hate when people say "the book is better".... but .... pretty much. The movie is an ok dystopian teen adventure flick. But the book opens up a very thought provoking look into factions of people who catch the same vibe, and how people who try to cross into different tribes get ostracized for coloring outside the lines of their own faction. The movie doesnt come close to touching on this theme. 3 stars.
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on March 29, 2016
Enjoying this particular movie depends on how much the viewer has in common with either of the two main characters- the more, the better (age, gender, body type, etc...). This production is built specifically for teenagers, and I say that as a fan of the Hunger Games. Here's the difference: the plot in The Hunger Games centers on correcting injustice far and succeeding in the face of loss and change. This movie, however, is more about about finding a place to fit in, how parents just don't understand, and how the young people are the only ones who really "get it." The teens (and maybe twenty-somethings) should love this movie, but beyond them, there's a bit of a disconnect. Sadly, this production got boring along the way, and I hope the next installments are better.
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on April 6, 2015
This is one of those disks that forces viewers to watch a bunch of previews at the beginning which I suppose they all do nowadays. But I don't have to like it, and that's why I mention it. I mostly buy only digital content for this reason nowadays. I liked the movie. I had read the books, and I thought the movie did a pretty good job creating that world visually. The quality of the disk seems okay. I like that I can redeem the digital copy on iTunes and have it with me on my iPad while traveling (if I want). For the price, it could have had more and better extras, but I enjoyed all the behind-the-scenes and making-of video. I also enjoyed seeing and hearing Veronica Roth. I hadn't seen her before or known anything about her, so it was interesting to hear the things she had to say.
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on November 25, 2015
Unlike Hunger Games which started to deviate from the book or outright leave out plot lines, this followed pretty closely. Loved the first book and only picked it up because my wife and I met in Chicago. Granted, each successive movie was less engaging and now they are just outright boring (hell the third book took nearly 2/3 of the book to get to any plot line that didn't revolve around "ooo, I love him/her, and ooo I'm pining for them"). This, at least, was a pretty good video. Never mind I feel I can't look at Shalene Woodley straight in the eyes with that lazy eye thing going on, but Four is pretty much how I imagined him as were most of the other characters. Solid acting (except for hers) and believable emotions. Can't complain with a free download because of some Verizon promo.
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on August 10, 2014
This movie was your typical recycle of the past few years worth of teen movies. It was very predictable, it tries to force a love story that it doesn't need, female heroine that is special from everyone else, separated from parents and must grow up quick. These movies are metaphors for going to college. The film was still watchable, i finished the 3 hours but halfway through i felt dissapointed with the direction the plot was going. The worst thing about this movie is that its 3 hours long but doesnt have anything realistic about it to get you into it. Example would be everyone lives in a grungy bunker with no showers but everyone has perfect hair, notably the girl, seriously you will notice how good her hair looks to the point its distracting. A sci-fi or action movie should be over the top unbelievable and hour n a half long or believable at 2+ hours. I can go on and on about what ruined this film for me but overall i think most people will find it okay but not worth renting, and a few loving it that can relate with the main character and havn't watched all the other ones.
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on November 28, 2015
As many others have said, if you've seen the Hunger Games or any other YA dystopia sci-fi made in the last decade, this will be basically more of the same.
The story was presented too simply, with the only questions it leaves being due to its inability to properly set up its world, but acts like there's something deeper. The characters are hardly fleshed out, being sort of generic character types for most of the movie, until the screenwriters realized there needed to be character development and suddenly thrust tons of development into one or two scenes. The character relationships are not believable or even attempted to be. They're just suddenly in love one scene. The story attempts plot twists, but for anyone paying attention to any movie in the past decade will be able to figure all of it out before the movie wants you to. The villain comes out of nowhere, given two short scenes before she becomes the big bad, and has no development to lead to a believable villain. The final confrontation with the villain comes out of nowhere, suddenly the love interest tells main character of this thing happening, then they're all being mind controlled by a macguffin that comes out of nowhere, then they have to get guns and save the day.
There was nothing great in the movie, nothing wholly original or fantastic. There's one scene where Shailene Woodley acts, after seeing someone she cares about die. It was the one scene in the movie that anyone felt like they were acting, but she was really good in it, and made me realize that she is actually an actress and not just a cute young face. The fact that Loscil had some music in the movie was pretty great, too, since that dude is great and needs to be represented more.
There was also nothing offensive in the movie. Nothing in it was so bad I felt insulted, or so bad that I felt the story was trying to rip off better YA stories.
I wouldn't recommend it, but I wouldn't tell people to avoid it. If I had paid any money for this (got it free with the Amazon Thanksgiving thing) I might care a bit more, but for now, Divergent is just kind of... there.
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