There are two types of people in this world: Those who love Divergent and those who’ve never heard of, nor care, about Veronica Roth’s post-Hunger Games young adult series. Peter Travers – mock him if you will – is a proud fan of the books. Unfortunately, he has to break out his best scum-bucket voice on At the Movies this week: “It sucks,” he says of the new film adaptation. “It is really just this huge disappointment.”
Divergent is set in a dystopian future where all 16-year olds are made to join one of five factions: Abnegation for the humble and selfless; Amity for the peaceful; Candor for the brutally honest; Dauntless for the brave; and Erudite for the intellectuals. Those who don’t fit into any of the groups are Divergent — and considered dangerous.
The series’ protagonist is Tris, played by Shailene Woodley, who grows up Abnegation but decides she needs some changes in her life and decides to be Dauntless when she turns 16. There’s a love story, of course, with Four (Theo James) – whose name Travers says only makes sense if you go see the movie – and soon, both he and Tris realize they are indeed Divergent.
The movie should be an easy home run, says Travers, and he calls Woodley an excellent actress, but goes on to chastise the movie for giving her pretty much nothing to do: “It’s like talk, talk, talk,” he bemoans. To boot, Woodley and James have no chemistry on screen (something not helped by their ostensible age difference) and the action is far from hard-hitting.
“Everything just lies there bland and lifeless and awful, and I’ve got to say I’m disappointed about that,” Travers says. “If you’re thinking to spend maybe as much as 20 bucks to see this movie you would be making a huge mistake. I’m sorry, but my faction is Candor.”