Box art for Divergent

  Divergent

action & adventure


Based on the worldwide bestseller, DIVERGENT is a thrilling action-adventure set in a future world where people are divided into distinct factions based on human virtues. Tris Prior is warned she is Divergent and will never fit into any one group.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
    41%
  • Audience Score
    72%

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 13
Positive messages
3 out of 5
Positive role models
4 out of 5
Violence
4 out of 5
Sex
2 out of 5
Language
2 out of 5
Consumerism
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
0 out of 5

Strong female character leads in violent dystopia.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that Divergent is the first page-to-screen adaptation of author Veronica Roth's best-selling dystopian trilogy. Set in a future Chicago, the movie is slightly less violent than the book but still depicts the brutal world of a post-apocalyptic society divided into factions or groups. People are killed, orphaned, injured, and thoroughly beat up in bloody hand-to-hand combat (including guy on girl fist fights), violent bullying, an armed occupation, and mass killings of unarmed people. There's a central romance, but it remains fairly chaste -- only some longing looks, embraces and one extended, passionate kiss. The movie features a brave, vulnerable, and fierce female main character.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about the popularity of violent dystopian stories aimed at teenagers. What purpose does the violence serve in the story? Is it different to see violence rather than to read about it? How does the violence in the book compare to the movie?
  • How does Tris compare to other female protagonists in young adult books and movies? What are her views on love, family, and relationships? Does she have the qualities of a role model?
  • Discuss the central romance between Tris and Four. Were you surprised at how slowly it progressed? What messages about love and sex does the film communicate?
  • Fans of the book: was the movie a faithful adaptation? What differences did you like, which scenes from the book did you miss?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    41%
    reviews counted: 22
    see all Divergent reviews
  • Audience

    72%

Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: Overall I was delighted with Divergent and am eager to see how the remaining two films continue to take us on Tris' adventure, as she and Four attempt to learn what's really going on in their very crazy world.

- Bill Zwecker, Chicago Sun-Times, Thursday, March 20, 2014

Rotten: Barely diverting.

- Bruce Diones, New Yorker, Monday, March 31, 2014

Fresh: Hey, we gotta kill time between Hunger Games installments somehow. Why not Divergent?

- Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News, Thursday, March 20, 2014

Audience Reviews

3 stars

Better than expected! Despite the dystopian segregation into what are essentially Houses of Hogwarts that only futuristic leaders ever think is a good idea, the YA romance of "Divergent" seems to have learned from the mistakes of its predecessors (emo wallpaper girl--emo stalker boy--emo muscley boy love triangle of "Twilight" and emotionless tough girl--emo baker boy--emotionless muscley boy love triangle of "The Hunger Games") and crafted a first installment featuring a heroine with a tough AND emotional journey and just one leading boy who has a life outside of love. Four started out as Tris's superior in Dauntless faction, and while Tris proves her mettle, Four never makes her feel that she needs his approval. I wasn't into Theo James's face at first from the promo posters, but his face is actually better in motion. He plays Four with gloom and glower but also tenderness and compassion. Shailene Woodley is a little blank at first, but she eventually faces down icy blue Kate Winslet with conviction and divergent badassery. Woodley has also got to be the best cryer in the business. Between the swimming pool scene in "The Descendants" and *spoilers* Tris clutching her dying mother in the inadequate refuge of an alleyway, gibbering to no avail at the shooters to stop shooting - ALL THE FEELS!

- aliceinpunderland, Monday, April 28, 2014

3 stars

High school for many was a personal version of hell, with its class system and pressure to conform. Divergent built a whole future dystopia around this relatable concept. The problem with the movie is that the source material doesn't think that much further. In the future, 100 years after a great war that scarred the world, the survivors have holed up in the remains of Chicago with a large fence as their protection. The government decided to split off into five different factions, each with their important purpose. The five factions (Abnegation, Candor, Erudite, Amity, and Dauntless) work in harmony. Tris (Shailene Woodley) comes from a family of Abnegation, the selfless ones who run the government, though Jeanine (Kate Winslet), the head of Erudite, would like her faction to be on top. At the choosing ceremony, a candidate can select which faction they wish to live within. However, if rejected, that person will be factionless and on the outskirts of society. Rather than choose the comfort of her boring life, Tris decides to join Dauntless, the faction in charge of the security of the city. Before she can say goodbye to her family, she's off joining a new one, but Dauntless has many tests to weed out the weak. Paramount in her mind is the fact that Tris is told she's a divergent, one who doesn't fit neatly into any one of the factions. Divergents are being singled out and executed because they are feared; they can't be so easily controlled. Tris has to prove herself against tough competition in Dauntless while hiding her true divergent nature. Having not read the best-selling Young Adult books, I went into Divergent and walked away entertained enough though questioning the larger appeal. My movie partner told me that the adaptation hews closely to the book, fitting in all the major plot beats; she even said it was a better adaptation than the first Hunger Games, so fans should be relieved. What the movie came down to was one long plot about Tris getting through the Dauntless tests. It's like a post-apocalyptic Full Metal Jacket, just minus the war half. With this tight focus, the film actually plays better and is easier to digest. The stakes are made clear and the hurdles are easy to understand. In a way it reminded me of the Ender's Game film where we watch a recruit move up the ranks of their sci-fi training, though Ender's was better at establishing dimension to its world. I did like the small touch that the Abnegation people won't allow themselves to see their reflection because they see it as vain. I could have used more touched like that. There are simple pleasures watching Tris, the plucky underdog, rising to the challenge and besting her snobby peers. The games get more intense and Tris learns from trial to trial, eventually learning how to hide her divergent nature by blending in against her nature. There's also an intensity to this world that's appreciated; people will die if they can't keep up (there is one shocking sequence where a batch of jealous recruits literally try and kill Tris). The physical trials are fun but the mental ones are even more entertaining because they function around the candidate's fears. It's a tad lazy to simply broadcast a character's fear for them to confront in a dream, but it provides some creepy imagery and new wrinkle for Tris to master. Even the requisite romance that every YA property has to have is handled respectfully without overdoing it. The mentor/teacher relationship with Tris and Four is a natural conduit for their budding romantic feelings, though James (Underworld: Awakening) looks way older than Woodley (The Descendants). In reality, he's 30 and she's 22, though she's supposed to be... 17? 18 years old? I don't know but it just didn't sit right. Where the movie gets into problems is the larger world outside those Dauntless camps. It feels too ill defined and purposely vague. What's on the other side of the giant electrified fence (hopefully dinosaurs)? I suppose that's what sequels are for (they're already filming the second Divergent for March 2015). The world just feels too small even for one city, and the history doesn't feel integrated into the cultivations of this society. In a sense, the movie doesn't give you enough to go on with its world building and spends far too much time dragging out its story. At a hefty 142 minutes, a timeframe becoming de rigueur with YA adaptations, the film feels laboriously padded. I kept thinking the movie was going to check out at any moment, robbing me of some semblance of a complete ending. Fear not, there is an ending, though one that feels far too definite to continue a franchise. The bad guys are so obviously guilty, that even while still being at large, it's hard to fathom a scenario that doesn't unite everyone against the common threat. Does every YA post-apocalyptic mold eventually lead to unlikely heroes becoming the focal points of revolutions? I'm being facetious, but also highlighting just how derivative this movie is. Divergent borrows from its larger influences liberally, having enough story sense to know how to construct a satisfying tale of heroes and villains. It's a well-polished film thanks to director Neil Burger (Limitless) but it's also lacking necessary elements to distinguish it from the glut of dystopian imitators and predecessors. I just can't wrap my head around the world of Divergent. It lacks the clean clarity of, say, The Hunger Games, where the game is kill-or-be-killed and it's very much a class warfare allegory. In Veronica Roth's novel, the post-apocalyptic Chicago is divided into five factions but this isn't a caste system. The different factions are looked at as equals, meant to cooperate harmoniously. So there goes any sort of class conflict when the factions are presented more as lifelong clubs. The design is that branching people off into five groups will somehow prevent the strife that lead to the unnamed war of the past. This doesn't really make a lot of sense to me. Why would limiting people's options for careers and lifestyles eliminate conflict? I understand the not so subtle message about conformity and the strength in controlling others, but it still doesn't hold. Then there's the notion that a divergent is a dangerous rogue, but it's not like the divergent are mutants or genetically different. These are just people who don't fit neatly into one of the five faction options. If you eliminate the conformity obsession, who cares? It's only an aptitude test in the end, like what you take in middle school that say, "Hey, you like drawing, maybe you'd like to be a police sketch artist" (true personal anecdote of mine). It's not something that looks deep into the souls of boys and girls and presages their future. It's an aptitude test for crying out loud. The world of Divergent also feels strangely unfulfilled, with too many lingering questions about the logistics of how this future Chicago is able to function. There's a confusing aura around this world and it doesn't get explained because we spend so much time in Dauntless boot camp. There was a weird motif I kept noticing throughout the film and that's the future's unsafe disregard for medical safety. The Dauntless kids are all about the running, jumping, punching each other in the face, but it all begins at their choosing ceremony. The candidates walk to the front of an auditorium, slice their palm with a ceremonial knife, and then squeeze blood into a bowl representing the faction they select. Of course they reiterate "faction before blood" so it's a little strange that the ritual involves their blood. Anyway, what I picked up was that every candidate was using the same knife, only with he most perfunctory of wiping the blade. That is just unclean and a way for blood-based disease to spread. Then later during the mental round of testing, Four injects Tris and himself with the same needle. Clearly these post-apocalyptic people have forgotten all about AIDS and other deadly diseases. Why else would Jeanine be so calm as her hand is covered in someone else's blood? I'm surprised she just didn't lick it for effect. The actors are all well cast for their parts, with Woodley again proving herself as one of the best young actresses today in Hollywood. Her part isn't anywhere as complex or demanding as her terrific turn in The Spectacular Now, but she's able to slide in emotion where possible, expressing much through the power of her eyes. She's a heroine you want to root for, and when she goes into badass mode it feels earned. James is suitably hunky while still being mysterious and broody. Interestingly enough, Miles Teller, Woodley's onscreen beau in Spectacular Now, is here as a bully and Ansel Elgort, who plays Tris' older brother, will soon play Woodley's onscreen beau in The Fault in Our Stars. It's like this weird cross-section of Woodley's film history of boyfriends. The adults do fine jobs with their limited time, with Winslet (Labor Day) being a better realized version of what Jodie Foster was possibly going for in Elysium. My favorite adult actor was Jai Courtney (A Good Day to Die Hard, Jack Reacher) who hasn't found the right fit for his talents, until now (he was great on Starz's Spartacus TV show). As a no-nonsense Dauntless captain, he's imposing in many respects and also intriguingly devious. He's a grade-A heavy and adds a jolt to the scenes he's in. Poised to be the next YA breakout franchise, Divergent will likely be a hit with its target audience and reap the rewards at the box-office, though I think its flaws will hold it back from being embraced by a wider audience with no affiliation with the books. It's an entertaining story with good actors and enough well constructed payoffs, but it's also confusing, vague, and lacking enough urgency, class conflict, and developments to parlay into a more interesting story once Tris graduates from the Dauntless ranks. As a standalone film, Divergent works enough and duly entertains, thanks again to Burger's visual sensibilities and the strength of Woodley. I'm just not invested at all in this world or its larger characters to compel myself to find out what happens next. I ravenously tore through the Hunger Games books, but to each their own. As a big screen sci-fi film, it's strange that Divergent would work best in its smaller moments and settings. It's too bad the movie doesn't diverge enough from the pack of YA-modeled adventures. Well there is one thing to look forward to: I'll see if I get my wish for dinosaurs in March 2015. Nate's Grade: B-

- mrbungle7821, Friday, March 21, 2014

3 stars

Nowadays, film studios seem to want to market specific genres to younger crowds, which is of course a great idea to make money. Twilight and The Hunger Games proved that. Now, the latest craze is Divergent, a somewhat similar story to The Hunger Games, and it has as many fans. I went into this film expecting a total rip-off of The Hunger Games, and expected to hate it. Well, I was pleasantly surprised, I liked it, but it was simply average in my book. There were some good, well thought out parts, and the cast were quite good, especially lead actress Shailene Woodley. I haven't read the books, so I can't compare, but for what it is, Divergent wasn't bad. I enjoyed it for what it was, a fun, entertaining action film that can appeal to anyone looking for a fun dystopian society film. Go into this one with an open mind, you might like it. There are some well executed action scenes, and overall the direction is solid. Divergent has the misfortune of coming after The Hunger Games, and with that being said, I can see why there are similarities between the two. But this is still a good film for what it is, but it could have been much better as well. I think this film doesn't deserve the flack it received, sure it's not as good as The Hunger Games, but it's not a bad movie either. For what it is, it's an entertaining picture from start to finish that I think deserves a bit more credit. Divergent is a film that steadily builds up to a good finish, and if you enjoy Dystopian society films, then this is worth seeing. Divergent is the type of film that can exceed your expectations, it may be flawed, but there are enough aspects at work to make Divergent a thrilling ride even if it isn't perfect.

- TheDudeLebowski65, Tuesday, March 25, 2014