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Jaap buitendijk

Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Zoe Kravitz, and Shailene Woodley star in Neil Burger’s new movie, Divergent.

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★★★★✩

Divergent

Directed by Neil Burger

Starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer, and Kate Winslet

Rated PG-13

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I went into this movie with high hopes and low expectations, and I came out feeling pleasantly surprised. Given that this movie is the newest in a long string of teen sci-fi romance novels adapted into movies, I figured that it was likely to be overly simplified, strangely cast, and poorly acted. Fortunately, for the most part, this was not the case.

Divergent is a dystopian sci-fi action adventure film based on a best-selling book series by Veronica Roth set in a world where people are divided into factions based on 5 human virtues: courage, honesty, selflessness, kindness, and wisdom.

The protagonist, Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) is “Divergent” — not fitting neatly in any one faction. Tris is warned that she will never fit into any one group and is forced to hide the fact that she is Divergent.

When she discovers a conspiracy by a faction leader (Kate Winslet) to destroy all Divergents, Tris must learn to trust in the mysterious Four (Theo James) and together they must find out what makes being Divergent so dangerous before it’s too late.

This movie was great in a few respects. It was well-scripted so that the plot was easy to follow, whether one has read the book or not. As someone who had read the book when it first came out, but not since, I found that the movie included the most important scenes, while cutting out most of the unnecessary subplots.

Someone who has read the book recently will find some scenes missing, but the film excellently portrays pivotal events, allowing the film to stand in its own right.

Additionally, the action and acting are both well done. I found that the fight scenes were both exciting and relatively believable, and the other action-based scenes were also enthralling. As for the acting in this movie, most of the time, it was sufficiently plausible.

Unfortunately, this film does get it wrong in a few ways. After reading the book, I had envisioned the setting as a relatively destroyed city; in the movie, the city was much more intact than I had imagined. And the acting sometimes left something to be desired.

While most of the scenes had believable characters and relationships, I sometimes found myself wishing that the characters had been portrayed with more nuance. The movie only hinted at some of the characters’ relationships, which meant that I might not have caught them sufficiently early if I hadn’t read the book.

Overall, I enjoyed this movie. It is fun, it is action-packed, and it addresses interesting moral questions. Most importantly, it is done pretty well, at least for a movie adaptation of teen sci-fi romance novel.