Divergent movie poster

A young woman trains as a warrior in the first installment of a series set in a dystopian future, eventually finding herself in conflict with the sinister Powers that Be. Divergent fairly begs to be measured against the Hunger Games series, right down to the sibilant similitude of the heroines' names (Katniss, Beatrice). Who are we to refuse? In the all-important star department, Shailene Woodley holds her own; Beatrice is girlier and gentler than Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss, but the story affords her more time to build actual relationships, since the bulk of the action covers her training to join Dauntless, her hometown's warrior caste. That focus skews the whole story away from societal critique and toward teen ensemble drama, which is probably for the best, because the societal critique (control and conformity are not always good things) is both creaky and confused. (Apparently, the greatest danger to society is someone who is kind, brave, intelligent, honest, and selfless.) Good-looking but overlong, and full of fine set-pieces that somehow fail to sustain momentum. 2014.

Matthew Lickona

This movie is not currently in theaters.

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