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The ‘Divergent’ reviews are in : What say the critics?

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Tepid reviews (see below) aside, we’re still excited about “Divergent”,  the first – and hopefully not last – installment in Veronica Roth’s damsel-of-dystopia  series. We’re seeing it this week – and in rather lush, style – so we’ll restrain from reading the full text of each review below ourselves (even critics like to be surprised, ya know!?), but if anyone cares to know what Hollywood’s top film opinion-makers are saying of Neil Burger’s film adaptation.. check these out :

 

The Hollywood Reporter says, “..an idea that loses much of its potency in the movie adaptation, as director Neil Burger struggles to fuse philosophy, awkward romance and brutal action. Even with star Shailene Woodley delivering the requisite toughness and magnetism, the clunky result is almost unrelentingly grim. Dystopia can be presented in dynamic ways, but this iteration of it is, above all, no picnic for the audience. Woodley, a sensitive performer, is hamstrung by the screenplay but lends her role relatability and a convincing athleticism. Burger and Kuchler’s unfortunate preference for mascara-ad close-ups, however, detracts from the character’s grit. In the hands of Burger, whose credits include The Illusionist and Limitless, the story’s elements of spectacle, decay, symbolism and struggle only rarely feel fully alive. Lackluster direction in the early installments of other YA franchises hasn’t slowed their momentum, though. Divergent will be no exception.”

Forbes says, ” Divergent will play to the converted and please the fan base. But despite Shailene Woodley’s terrific performance, its generic story renders much of its mythology irrelevant.”

Indie Wire says, ” At almost 140 minutes, there’s no better way to describe “Divergent” than as a bit of a slog. Where at the very least “The Hunger Games” (and its sequel) shuffled quickly from macro to micro with its world building, Burger’s film takes its time introducing the idea of factions, and devotes enormous attention to Tris’ identity crisis before audiences get any real sense of the larger societal issues that will be explored. Burger’s film is, to its credit, probably second-best among the YA adaptations that Hollywood has mounted since “Twilight” put the subgenre on the map. But with a second installment already going into production, one hopes that the series’ world-building is done and its world-living can begin. Because the quality that “Divergent” still lacks is the broader emotional resonance that makes it distinctive—which is why, for the time being, it’s not yet being defined by anything other than what it isn’t.”

Variety says, ” Even though it stretches to nearly two-and-a-half hours and concludes with an extended gun battle, by the time “Divergent” ends, it still seems to be in the process of clearing its throat. Blame it on burdensome commercial expectations, perhaps: Adapted from the first novel in Veronica Roth’s blockbuster YA series, this film has clearly been designated an heir apparent to Summit-Lionsgate’s massively lucrative teen-targeted “Twilight” and “Hunger Games” properties. Yet director Neil Burger seems so concerned with laying franchise groundwork that he neglects to create an engaging standalone movie, and “Divergent’s” uncertain sense of setting, bloated plot, drab visual style and solid yet underwhelming lead turns from Shailene Woodley and Theo James don’t necessarily make the best case for series newcomers. Fans of the books will turn out for what should be a very profitable opening weekend, but with future installments already on the release calendar, the film’s B.O. tea leaves will surely be read with care.”

The Wrap says, “This Frankenstein of stitched-together YA parts never stands on its own two feet, even with Kate Winslet giving full-on Faye Dunaway”

 

Thompson on Hollywood says, “As it is… it’s not particularly exciting, not because there isn’t action, but because there isn’t an emotional rope to hang onto. There is a good deal of cruelty and violence as the would-be Dauntleteers are shamed, humiliated, beaten and repeatedly tested to see who will actually make the cut. Tris is in danger of flunking out – homelessness and indigence are the fate of the Factionless – but she begins to slowly rise in the esteem of her peers and her trainers, who include hunkmeister Theo James as Four. She  positions herself as a leader of Dauntless, just as the group gets co-opted into a coup to turn the city into something even more fascistic than it already is.”

The Huffington Post says, ” As a Divergent book fan, there are so many scenes you cannot wait to see played in real life outside your head. There are so many amazing moments in the book — those Dauntless know how to keep their hearts racing — and all my favorites not only made it in but were performed beyond my wildest imagination.  Not wanting to spoil anything for Divergent newcomers, I’ll share more details for other book fans on my young adult book review site, Read.Breathe.Relax. As I continued to watch the movie, I kept thinking that it reminded me of how much I loved the book when I first read it and how the story delves much deeper than a simple coming-of-age tale. It’s about family and choices and wanting to feel like you belong. It’s about community and our innate fear of being alone. And most importantly, it’s about fighting what’s expected to be who you really are. This is a film that will inspire viewers to pick up the book immediately after watching it.”

Chicago Now says, “Divergent kept you interested and was not slow at all. The film was shot in Chicago. It was really cool to see how Chicago would look like in the future. The Chicago scenery was beautiful. The acting was right on for stars that are somewhat starting out their acting careers. The film had action, romance and adventure something for everybody. I would say to go check it out it is definitely worth seeing this film.”

Screen International says, “They don’t make dystopian young-adult fiction like they used to — or, rather, they make it exactly like they used to, without many new wrinkles. Divergent will no doubt be compared endlessly to The Hunger Games, and certainly this film’s backers won’t mind if they can enjoy some of that franchise’s theatrical success. But despite a strong cast and some capable effects work — to say nothing of a rousing final third — this adaptation of the smash Veronica Roth novel suffers from genre déjà vu as well as that familiar first-instalment problem of having too much setup and not enough payoff.”

“Divergent” commences this week in the U.S, and in Australia in April.

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