HOLLYWOOD – Ok, we’ve heard of the countless comparisons between “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent,” but does “Divergent” set itself apart from the Jennifer Lawrence henomenon that has captured the hearts of America. The answer to that question is yes. The biggest difference between the two franchises is that “Divergent” brings a bit more dramatic flair to the table compared to what has been seen in “The Hunger Games” flicks up to this point.


For starters, the picture takes place in a futuristic Chicago, where the government has come to segregate its people into five categories: Abnegation (selfless), Amity (kind), Candor (honest), Erudite (intelligent) and Dauntless (brave) based entirely on their personality.


Our heroine Beatrice ‘Tris’ Prior portrayed by the wonderful Shailene Woodley doesn’t fit entirely into any of those categories. In other words she is depicted as being Divergent, someone that could cause hiccups in the government’s scheme to keep its people under control. I will admit the movie takes a bit of time getting its steam to propel the narrative.


As with many franchises, that first installment can always be a bit tricky as it’s the introduction to our primary characters. In some cases, like “Divergent” it may be a bit too character driven.  An overload of characters can somewhat divert the attention of what the movie is truly all about, in an attempt to provide a ample slice of all characters, even those who may not portray notable roles until later in the franchise.

Tris is not a superhero when the movie first starts; it’s a gradual buildup for the conflicted young woman to be molded into the hero that she becomes thanks to Tobias (Theo James). He’s a badass, but at the same time a character that is quite charming to our protagonist. The audience will be well aware of the chemistry between both Woodley and James; it’s inescapable in my opinion.


Oscar-winner, Kate Winslet is a revelation playing the evil Jeanine Matthews who is hell bent on keeping conformity in the community. She plays a hard nose, but does it so well she is perfection in the role. Hard to believe, Winslet has never stepped into portraying the role of a villain in any of her previous work prior to “Divergent.”


The irony of “Divergent” similar to “The Hunger Games” is its attempt to pinpoint a problem plaguing many societies: government control. The issue of conformity is front and center in this picture, and those who deviated from that guideline are viewed as threats that could dismantle the government as we speak. So what must be done? They have to be eliminated to protect a riot or chaos from ensuing. The scary thing about “Divergent” is the self-reflection it puts up to the audience’s face. We all live in a conformity state. We do, we say, we behave as the government enforces us to.  Those who deviate find themselves in hot water. This is not just a movie about a hero being shaped, it’s a film about a world that resembles reality a lot more than we’d like to accept. Its scary, precisely the point the movie presents to the audience.