Reel Watchers: Divergent
Divergent" is the adaptation of Book 1 of the popular young adult series by Veronica Roth. In dystopian Chicago, all young people are sorted into five virtue-based factions that serve a specific purpose in society. They take an aptitude test to determine which faction they belong in, with the final choice up to them.
For our main character Tris, her test comes back inconclusive. She doesn't identify with any one faction, making her a Divergent. Her struggle to fit in while keeping her results a secret will take Tris down a road that will change the faction system forever.
While the film benefits from a strong cast (Shailene Woodley from "The Spectacular Now"), the plot takes nearly two hours to go anywhere. Director Neil Burger (The Illusionist) neglects expanding on this world, with it at times feeling like a shallow version of "The Hunger Games" down to the borrowed plot and characters themselves.
As someone who didn't read the book, I didn't care about these characters or what they were doing because I didn't buy the world they were in. Why is everyone divided into factions? What happened? Many things are inferred, but never properly explained. The characters and events unfold in predictable sequence, never diverging or taking risks (just like the factions themselves). I hope that Burger chose a cliché romance and high school plot devices just because he knew his audience.
I can't tell if it's an issue with the books, but this film was created specifically for the fans of the book and it rides on the success of the slew of dystopian young adult novels that came before it.
If you didn't read the books, you may have trouble liking this film. And even if you did, forgiving this stale plot may be difficult. I give this film 1½ miners.