Divergent (2014)

5.0 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 5/10

Potential in sequels

Rather dull action film

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Divergent

Studio:  Red Wagon Entertainment

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  March 18, 2014 (Premiere)/March 21, 2014 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG-13


Sometimes I feel like a bland copy of a really teen adventure…oh wait, I am

War has destroyed much of the world and in the remains of Chicago, the survivors have made their own community.  Divided into factions (Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite), placement in a faction is the biggest moment of a young person’s life.  Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) and her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) are about to undergo testing.  When Beatrice is shown to be Divergent and fitting into multiple factions, she is ordered for her safety to keep it hidden.  Beatrice (renaming herself Tris) joins the Dauntless and must fight to find a place in the group.  Tris faces danger due to her Divergent nature, and teamed with Four (Theo James), she finds herself caught up in a war between the ruling Abnegation and the scholarly Erudite.


Wahoo! 1992 crowd surfing!!! We’re going to “out lame” the Matrix’s dystopian dance party!

Directed by Neil Burger, Divergent is an adaptation of the Veronica Roth’s 2011 teen fantasy novel.  The film was met with mixed reviews but a strong box-office showing from fans of the book series.

I thought I would see “what the kids were checking out” and see Divergent.  It seemed like rather generic teen melodrama sci-fi that almost sprung out of Harry Potter and Twilight as Harry Potter groomed future readers for series.  While some of these books and series are good, I found Divergent rather dull.


Mom…remember when you’d star in a movie like this?

With the success of the teen fiction genre, it feels like everyone is pumping out books aimed at teens (that adults still manage to consume just as much).  This is like throwing a giant net to catch one fish.  I feel that the movies are so bent on appealing to everyone that they lose their punch.  Here, you have a dystopian society ruled by a class structure and while this in itself could have been interesting, it is lost in cheesy mass appealing moments like challenges (jump onto a train, jump into a hole…will you die?) and very generic characters.  The movie takes forever to get going and then just ends when a plot is finally developed.  Though it is part of a whole story, I want a fulfilling movie…especially in the first film of a series which must hook a viewer.


Give me your Oscar!

The cast is also bland.  Shailene Woodley just doesn’t have what someone like Jennifer Lawrence has in The Hunger Games, but Theo James is very comparable to the rather bland male characters of that series.  I find it quite odd that both Kate Winslet who usually takes classier roles and Ashley Judd who is now subjected to the “Mom” role are in this film since it does not seem like the type of picture that either would be in.  Ansel Elgort who plays Tris’ brother in the movie went on to play her boyfriend later in 2014 in The Fault in Our Stars.  There are a few characters who feel under developed that I hope have expanded roles in the sequels like Ray Stevenson, Maggie Q, and Zoë Kravitz.


It’s kind of like the anti-Love Boat…love: dull & boring

Visually, I rather expected more from this movie as well.  Most of the teen movies are at least quite visual and stunning  to look at…even if the plot falls through.  Divergent really didn’t create a very interesting post-apocalyptic environment.  The Chicago setting could have opened up more to the film, but besides some shots outside of the city, the design and even fantasy moments really weren’t very captivating.

Divergent is rather lazy teen fiction.  There are tons of better movies and books aimed at teens and this and the sappy Twilight films don’t really help elevate a genre which does have a lot to offer.  Maybe Divergent can get better.  The movie is set up for a bigger story and sometimes these films take a bit to get going.  I felt the same way about the first Harry Potter that just took a while to find its stride.  I highly doubt Divergent will come close to meeting the level of even the worst Harry Potter, but it has potential to improve.  Divergent is followed by Insurgent in 2015.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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