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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Divergent - C+

Rated PG-13, 143 minutes

Intriguing premise in "Divergent" watered down under its predictability

Shailene Woodley and Theo James
For a movie about non-conformity, the entertainingly bland Young Adult sci-fi "Divergent" tries too hard to fit in. With an intriguing premise, some nice visuals and an attractive cast (including the lovely but underused Kate Winslet in a smallish role), it's ultimately disappointing under a dull, overlong plot. Set in a futuristic world where people are divided into distinct factions based on human virtues. Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) is warned she is Divergent and will never fit into any one group. When she discovers a conspiracy by a faction leader (Winslet) to destroy all Divergents, Tris must learn to trust in the mysterious Four (Theo James) and together they must find out what makes being Divergent so dangerous before it's too late. Directed by Neil Burger ("Limitless") and based on the set of popular YA novels by Veronica Roth, "Divergent" has some bland appeal and some enjoyable moments, though ironically, its message of non-conformity is lost in desperately trying to find mass appeal of that same audience. Better than "Twilight" in depth but lacking the intensity of "The Hunger Games," it should still be a big hit with both teens and their parents. Woodley, in a star-making role if there ever was one, nearly single-handedly carries the movie on her back as the girl with a secret, though she lacks chemistry with newcomer James, miscast here as her colleague and love interest; his rote, monotone line readings drag the film down in true Robert Pattinson-Taylor Lautner fashion (in other words, he can't act). The premise from Roth's novels is intriguing and the some of the visuals are first-rate, but it never quite takes shape and seem watered down, and may disappoint fans of Roth's (who is only 25 herself) novels. The bland, unsatisfying "Divergent" has been obviously designed as the next tentpole film once the "The Hunger Games" runs its course, and on that note it will likely be a big hit (it certainly didn't stop the much-worse "Twilight" series). Flat and middling at best, there are better options than this. Drop the kids off and go see "The Grand Budapest Hotel" again.

Wes's Grade: C+

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