College basketball isn’t the only cause of March Madness this year. The highly-anticipated thriller Divergent opens tomorrow and, wouldn’t you know it, the internet has a few opinions on the manner. The film adaptation of the popular Veronica Roth novel centers around a dystopian society that divides people into factions dependent upon their virtues and personalities. Starring Shailene Woodley and Theo James, the young adult film has drawn comparisons to The Hunger Games trilogy, but can Divergent match the popularity of the Jennifer Lawrence led franchise? Let’s find out, shall we?
Here’s what critics are saying about the film:
The A.V. Club, B – — “Without anecdotes and family history to make the audience care sufficiently about the minor characters, the significance of certain deaths hangs entirely on Woodley’s performance. She’s mostly up to the task: Unlike The Descendants and The Spectacular Now, which cast the young actress in more understated roles, Divergent requires Woodley to express a very Jennifer Lawrence-esque blend of sympathetic generosity and steely determination. In the rush to a conclusion, Divergent shifts gears rapidly from world-building to training to all-out war. Anything the film has to say about dystopian regimes or the harm in squelching individual expression gets lost in the rote romantic entanglements and inter-governmental conspiracies, all of which have been borrowed from other sources. The ultimate irony is that a series predicated on diverse individuals rising up against totalitarian regiment falls so completely in lock step with all other post-apocalyptic young-adult franchises.” — Kevin McFarland
The Chicago Tribune, 2 stars — “There are revelations regarding what’s up with the choosing ceremony, who’s involved with the simmering revolution, and how the male lead, played by Theo James, will look without a shirt. In a recent interview Woodley told MTV News: “We didn’t want it to feel like, oh, attractive male lead taking his shirt off in a young adult franchise.” Yes, well. Good try. All the same, James is the best thing in “Divergent.” Imagine the pain and suffering this film might’ve inflicted with Taylor Lautner of “Twilight” in the male-lust-object role, and you especially appreciate James’ wry, offhanded charisma.” — Michael Phillips
Hit Fix — “I’m curious to see where the series goes from here. Having not read anything beyond the first half of the book, I’m not sure where things are going, but as long as they’ve got Shailene Woodley and Theo James starring together, I’ll give it a chance. Building a successful franchise is enormously dependent on casting, and that’s what this film gets most right. Overall, “Divergent” is familiar fare, but served up by a cast that is fiercely dedicated to the material.” — Drew McWeeny
Entertainment Weekly, B + — “Woodley, through the delicate power of her acting, does something compelling: She shows you what a prickly, fearful, yet daring personality looks like when it’s nestled deep within the kind of modest, bookish girl who shouldn’t even like gym class. Tris chooses to become part of Dauntless not because she has any special athletic skill but because it’s her nature to go for broke. The first half of Divergent is a lean, exciting basic-training thriller, with Tris willing herself to do things like jump aboard speeding trains and fight with her bare knuckles. Woodley, at every turn, lets us feel as if we’re in her shoes, not so much Dauntless as thrillingly daunted.” — Owen Gleiberman
New York Post — “Despite its hype as the next big female-driven franchise after “The Hunger Games’’ — with an opening of as much as $70 million forecasted — “Divergent’’ is a clumsy, humorless and shamelessly derivative sci-fi thriller set in a generically dystopian future.” — Lou Lumenick
Divergent opens tomorrow at a theater near you! Will you watch?
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