The highly anticipated film Divergent opens in theaters nationwide this weekend, and despite initial reviews being lackluster at best, the film is expected to rake in the dough from fans of the book series the movie is based on.
The Film mimics the extremely popular formula involving an adaptation of a young adult novel series with a rabid fan base, a strong female lead, and a dystopian society that puts said heroine’s physicality and morality to the test. A similar formula made both the Twilight series and the Hunger Games films into huge successes, and Divergent has already been called a critic-proof film.
Good thing, too, considering the movie has a paltry 33 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Many critics have said that the film just feels too familiar — it doesn’t break out of the mold set by Twilight and the Hunger Games enough. Critics also said that the first film in what will be a three-film franchise spends a lot of time explaining Divergent’s complicated world and not enough time actually making plot unfold.
One consistent area of praise, however, is the performance of young star Shailene Woodley, who is set to become the ‘next Jennifer Lawrence’. The world of Divergent is set up in five different “factions.” At 16, citizens must decide whether to stay in the faction that they were born in with their families or move to a new faction on their own. Woodley plays Tris, the main character in the series, who chooses to leave her family in “Abnegation” to join the “Dauntless” faction consisting of the police and military, and goes through some tough training to prove her worth as a fighter. She’s set up against the antagonist leader of the “Erudite” faction, played by Kate Winslet.
“To its credit, the film goes to some dark places in its finale and is genuinely unflinching in both the idea of a female action hero and the moral sacrifices that come with picking up a weapon and doing bad. What happens in the end isn’t ‘empowering’ and it isn’t ‘sexy’. Tris truly gets her hands bloody for survival and for the greater good,” said Forbes critic Scott Mendelson.
Woodley has been praised for her dedication to the role. “Woodley, a sensitive performer, is hamstrung by the screenplay but lends her role relatability and a convincing athleticism,” said a review from The Hollywood Reporter.