Touted as The new Hunger Games, Divergent is set in futuristic Chicago where society has transcended chaos and war by dividing people into factions based on personality types to best serve their goal of everlasting peace. The film tells the story of Tris Prior (Woodley), who at age 16 must choose which faction she wishes to belong to. For Tris this is particularly difficult as she is the one thing that her society fears most, she is Divergent. We follow Tris on her journey as she defies her parents and defects from her selfless faction of Abnegation to the thrill seeking Dauntless where Tris is taught a hard lesson about who she is and the society she lives in.
Book to movie adaptations are always hard to get right. It's very much the Marmite section of the film world - you'll either love it or you hate it. Personally I loved Divergent. As a fan of the book, I think it did tremendously well in capturing the essence of the book and translating it to the big screen. Points that have to be lauded are firstly: the world building. The whole dystopian, five factions society thing is a bit hard to get your head around, but the film explains it quite well without dwelling too much on it. Secondly: the performances. It's such an impressive cast – and my standouts were Woodley, James and Winslet – but everyone really did a great job. And thirdly: the chemistry between Tris and Four. It just jumps off the screen while still being oh so subtle.
I can't talk enough about how amazing I think Woodley is in this film. Tris is a complicated character made up of a whirlwind of emotions and inner turmoil; indeed, it's what makes her Divergent and Woodley plays all the facets of her character beautifully. One thing that didn't sit well with me – and it was the same when I was reading the book for the first time – was how rushed the conclusion is. I know it's meant to be taken as action-packed and adrenaline-fuelled, but it just seems clumsy in terms of how the story was progressing.
It's a good watch. There's lots of action, a good romance and some snappy one-liners that will definitely garner a chuckle. I'm confident that fans of the book will be happy with this adaptation, but I'm not sure how well it will be received by an audience unfamiliar with the story as the plot does move quite quickly. A stellar cast, an interesting plot, wonderful world building and a great soundtrack, Divergent has got the potential to be the next big thing in young adult film if given the chance.
EXTRAS ★★★★ There's an audio commentary with director Burger; another audio commentary with producers Lucy Fisher and Douglas Wick; four deleted scenes (4:27); the four-part making-of featurette Bringing Divergent to Life (47:14); the Faction Before Blood featurette (14:50); the Meet Four featurette (1:32); the featurette The Look of Divergent (2:33); the featurette Behind The Scenes of Divergent (2:15); the featurette Choice (2:12); the Beating heart music video (3:47), performed by Ellie Goulding; and a Marketing Gallery, featuring four trailers and a selection of posters.