Basically, Divergent feels like someone saw the success of the Hunger Games and decided that they could do it better (which should sound familiar if you remember Beautiful Creatures). At least so far as I can tell, that’s not actually the case here, but it still feels that way.
In the case of Divergent, the world is slightly more believable, even if there are still a number of problems. Basically, teens are sorted into one of
four five2 casts (vaguely reminiscent of the houses in Harry Potter) based on a sort of personality test, although it’s possible to choose for yourself, if rare. Of course, the lead (and her brother) are two such that choose, abandoning their public servant (Abnegation) parents for the cops (Dauntless3) and brains (Erudite).
It doesn’t seem like such a system would hold together for particularly long and–spoilers–it doesn’t. Still, my general rule is a movie (or book etc) is allowed one thing. One suspension of disbelief. For Divergent, I’ll give it the initial social structure.
Beyond that, I thought that Shailene Woodley was well cast (even if she always seemed a little too clean, as either public servant or adrenaline junkie). I didn’t like Theo James quite as much, but so it goes.
Overall, a solid enough 2 of 2 for the year. If I had to guess, I’d say that Divergent will probably end up somewhere in the middle. It’s a good enough distraction, but certainly not a great movie. I was pleasantly surprised and I’ll go see the sequels if/when they come out.
Ranked: 2014 Movie Reviews
As a side note: The story of the author (Veronica Roth) is actually pretty interesting. She wrote Divergent while on winter break from a creative writing degree at Northwestern University. She’d already sold the movie rights before she graduated. That’s kind of awesome.