I have to say, while leads Shailene Woodley and Theo James (who hauntingly reminds me of a younger Paul Walker) are impressive, this feels like a long (close to 2 and a half hours!!!) “Hunger Games” wanna-be. Like “The Hunger Games”, this comes from a popular book series (and thus a new YA, young adult franchise is born) . The “Divergent” book series followed “The Hunger Games” by 3 years.
As with “The Hunger Games”, the setting is post-apocalyptic America, where teenagers join tribes based on their virtues: bravery; selfishness; high intelligence. Our heroine turns out to be a divergent, the few who fit into several tribes. Kate Winslet gets to play the villain this time as the tribe leader who is so threatened by divergents, she’s out to exterminate them.
Relatively unknown Brit Theo James is a standout as co-star. He is blessed with that on-screen magnetism that draws your eyes on him like a magnet to steel. He is perfectly cast. Shailene Woodley is impressive but pales in comparison to the glorious Jennifer Lawrence in “The Hunger Games”. I was actually more impressed with Shailene in last year’s coming of age romancer “The Spectacular Now”, co-starring Miles Teller, who also joined Woodley in this film as a member of the tribe.
While I’m sure the target audience will easily make this a box office smash, it’s just not up to the excellence of “The Hunger Games”. “The Hunger Games” was wildly colorful and at times, funny. This is dark, dark, dark and wayyyyyyy too long. At least there’s no 3-D to deal with for close to 2-and-a-half hours.
It was great to see Ashley Judd back on screen as our heroine’s mom, who has a surprise of her own .
What I like most about “Divergent” is as a coming of ager, it empowers girls. We need these role models, even when fictional, especially after the become-a-celeb-by-doing-a-sex-tape non-role models of Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian.