Action-adventure movies, featuring young women as heroines are big in Hollywood nowadays. The newest example, DIVERGENT, stars Shailene Woodley and Theo James.
Woodley, the young actress who also starred in THE DESCENDANTS and THE SPECTACULAR NOW is the best reason to see DIVERGENT, a sci-fi action-drama that doesn't quite measure up to THE HUNGER GAMES. Both are based on popular novels written for "young adults."
And like HUNGER GAMES, DIVERGENT is set in the distant future during a time when powerful leaders tightly control all their citizens.
Tris (Woodley) in voice over: 100 years ago after the war, our founders created a system they believed would create lasting peace. They divided society into five factions…..Everyone is tested to find out who we are and where we belong.
Shailene Woodley is Tris, a young woman who isn't sure what faction she fits into, and her personality test, taken under the influence of a hallucinatory drug, doesn't help.
Tester: Your results are inconclusive.
Tris: That's impossible.
Tester: Not impossible. It's just extremely rare. You're able to control and conquer your fears. They call it "Divergent."
Tris: Everyone seems to know where they belong except for me.
And that's more than a typical adolescent complaint because, as Tris soon learns, when the leaders find out she's a divergent, they will kill her because they believe that Divergents are nonconformists who can't be controlled.
In the meantime, Tris tries to become a member of the warrior/protector faction known as "Dauntless" whose members must go through a long, rigorous, even brutal training period. The initiation is to jump off a tall building into shadows that conceal what is below.
During the training, Tris is attracted to one of the Dauntless leaders who goes by the name, "Four." He's played by Theo James. Four treats Tris with contempt at first, but any moviegoer can see right away that this guy's the film's love interest.
DIVERGENT also offers another staple: some really evil villains. The biggest of them is played by an icy Kate Winslet, a leader of the Erudite faction.
Kate: Conformity to the faction removes the threat of anyone exercising their independent will.
What I like about DIVERGENT is the acting as well as the basic idea. What I don't like are its endless fight scenes and predictable plot.
If only the script were as polished as Shailene Woodley's performance.
Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now.