The template seems simple enough: adapt a best-selling dystopian YA book with a dynamic female heroine, sit back, and start counting the moolah. Lionsgate is wisely trying to replicate the billion-dollar success of Jennifer Lawrence and The Hunger Games with Divergent, another potential franchise based on Veronica Roth’s trilogy and starring Shailene Woodley.
Of course, Woodley’s Tris isn’t the first girl-power character to follow Katniss’ footsteps — but she is the most promising after disappointments like Mortal Instruments and The Host. In Roth’s novels, Tris is the rare renaissance gal from a rigidly divided skill-based society that sorts citizens into five camps based on personality traits, like bravery (Dauntless), intelligence (Erudite), or selflessness (Abnegnation). Tris, who was raised Abnegnation, qualifies for three camps, making her a “divergent” threat to the status quo, represented by Kate Winslet’s icy Erudite leader. “The future belongs to those who know where they belong,” she tells the nervous teens at their Choosing Ceremony.
Fortunately, Tris has some help from Dauntless, which is the daredevil group she surprisingly elects to join. Theo James plays her smoldering and mysterious teacher, Four, whom EW’s Owen Gleiberman compares to an “unflaky James Franco with a surly hint of T-shirt-era Brando; he brings off the neat trick of playing a hardass who is also a heartthrob.”
Divergent has been a great hope, especially since it nabbed the critically acclaimed Woodley (The Descendants) for the lead role and has Winslet’s glower-power to keep things interesting. The most passionate fans rushed out to see Thursday-night screenings — grossing an impressive $4.9 million overnight — and a sequel, Insurgent, is already on the way. But is Divergent any good? Click below to see what Gleiberman and other critics are saying about the movie before you head to the theater.
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