While I have not read the books, I was all too curious to see the latest in teen film phenomena (presumably), "Divergent." In addition to it taking place and being filmed in my awesome city of Chicago, was based on the novel by Veronica Roth, who wrote the first one as her thesis for a creative writing class at Northwestern University.
I was able to see a pre-screening at IMAX for this film. The trailers left me intrigued, but sometimes, you can never be too sure. I must say that it wasn't misleading.
"Divergent" offers a spin on some new ideals, but includes all the basics to make for an engaging film--action, angst, that feeling of being different/other/outsider, romance and change.
There is some strong supporting cast, including Ashley Judd, Kate Winslet, and Tony Goldwyn. Newcomer Theo James is a great male lead--nice to look at, and not too shabby on the acting.
All these things and more were enough for me to overlook the weak acting efforts delivered by Shailene Woodley as the lead, Tris. Good lord, there was just no...real zest to her. Oh sure, she was nowhere near as dull and unbearable as Kristen Stewart's Bella, but there's still something integral missing. I watched her on screen and thought of Sarah Michelle Gellar's Buffy or Jennifer Gardner's Sydney Bristow. Geena Davis' Charli Baltimore. To have both that edginess and tenderness is a tricky thing, and for the moment, Woodley does not have that.
I think this would have been a role better suited for Saoirse Ronan or Michelle Trachtenberg.
That being said, it's a great film. I plan to see the other two in the series, and check out the books, and you should too.