'Divergent' Movie Review: Something Just Doesn't Click

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I'm not sure what I expected when I went to see "Divergent." I wanted to go in and see something new and different.

I wanted the chance to see if Shailene Woodley could hold her own on the big screen and lead a franchise since she's a fantastic actress.

"Divergent" does have a lot of interesting ideas and I'm sure the novel is fantastic and deserves the praise it's gotten.

"Divergent" is about taking risks and finding yourself and your individuality and that's a damn good message. Unfortunately, Neil Burger takes very few risks and has trouble making "Divergent" a unique YA experience for its audiences.

Setting up the world that you'll be stuck in for 139 minutes, "Divergent" takes place in a futuristic Chicago where people are split into five distinct factions. These consist of Abnegation (selfless), Amity (kind), Candor (honest), Erudite (intelligent), and Dauntless (brave). Abnegation people are dedicated to selflessness and forgetting oneself for others. They also run the government for this this society.

Amity is dedicated to peacefulness, kindness, trust, and neutrality. Candor are known to value honesty over everything else.

Erudite is dedicated to knowledge, intelligence, curiosity, and astuteness and are the main rivals for Abnegation. Dauntless tries to fight cowardice and are the security force for the people.

At the age of 16, kids take Inception-like tests that determine what personality they fit best.

But just because the test tells them which faction they fit best with it doesn't mean they have to go to that one -- these kids are still given a chance to choose which faction their heart desires.

What the test comes down to is if that child will choose to remain with their family, or cut ties with them completely and go to a different faction.

Beatrice Prior (Woodley) was born and raised in the Abnegation faction with her brother and parents but has grown up admiring the Dauntless faction. She feels like she doesn't belong in Abnegation since she just doesn't feel like all that selfless, at least compared to her brother. When the day comes for her and her brother to take the aptitude test, she gets a result unlike any of the five factions: Divergent.

Being Divergent means that she doesn't fit into just one faction but one of several different factions.

Divergent's aren't welcome in society because apparently they create a threat to the system? Maybe I missed that explanation but to me it's never fully described as to why Divergent's are so dangerous.

When given the chance to choose her faction, she decides to leave her family behind and go with Dauntless. It's in Dauntless where she changes her name to Tris and meets her leader, Four (James) as well as a new friend in Christina (Kravitz) who chose Dauntless over her old faction Candor.

What comes next is a trial and training period for the new initiates of Dauntless where they either have to show they belong or will end up being factionless...which is essentially homeless.

I can't say I know what I would have preferred "Divergent" to do differently. It's easy to say it should have taken some risks but even that may not have made it better.

Aside from the performances, there really wasn't much to be enjoyed with "Divergent." I also haven't mentioned Kate Winslet up until this point since in a rare turn she really feels like she's just doing a job here.

It's hard to say Winslet is a weak point in a movie but her performance just feels...off, as if she's just phoning it in.

Maybe I feel this way since I haven't read Veronica Roth's series and I'm going into the movie not knowing some details that may have been important. But "Divergent" just didn't click for me in a way like "The Hunger Games" did.

"The Hunger Games" takes a lot of risks with its material and that's what makes it so much different when compared to most YA adaptations.

Burger should have followed in the footsteps of Gary Ross and Francis Lawrence who have taken "The Hunger Games" franchise to a whole other level.

While "Divergent" may have been a disappointment, there is potential for the franchise and I will still go and see "Insurgent" when it comes out.

Directed by Neil Burger. Written by Evan Daugherty and Vanessa Taylor.
Based on Divergent by Veronica Roth
Starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ashley Judd, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Zoe Kravitz, Miles Teller, Tony Goldwyn, Maggie Q, and Kate Winslet