Okay, I guess there is room for another young adult movie franchise that centers around a strong female character battling to survive in a dystopian futuristic society. Divergent doesn’t rise to the level of The Hunger Games, but it should satisfy fans of the best-selling book by Veronica Roth. The movie doesn’t offer up anything particularly fresh character or story-wise (compared to the aforementioned Hunger Games), but it survives – and will likely thrive- because the actors are all quite good. Especially the lead actress, Shailene Woodley (The Descendants, The Spectacular Now).
Woodley plays Beatrice Prior, a teenager who is supposed to choose (based on an aptitude test) where she belongs among her society’s five distinct factions: Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Candor (the honest), Amity (the peaceful) and Erudite (the intelligent). Turns out Beatrice has multiple, equally-strong traits, which makes her ‘divergent’ and therefore dangerous to a faction leader (played by Kate Winslet) who sees free-thinking and free-wheeling divergents as a threat that must be destroyed.
In an effort to define, or re-define herself, Beatrice shortens her name to Tris and joins the Dauntless faction, where she finds an ally and romantic interest in Four (yes, that’s his name). Four is played by Theo James who looks like a brooding and buff cross between Antonio Sabato, Jr. and James Franco. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Divergent feels darker and more overtly violent than The Hunger Games, so I didn’t particularly enjoy the movie. It actually left me less, rather than more inclined to read the “Divergent” trilogy. But with two sequels in the pipeline, I reserve the right to change my mind before Insurgent and Allegiant hit the big screen in 2015 and 2016 respectively – especially if I need a diversion before and after the final bow of The Hunger Games franchise.