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March 21, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

There’s little divergence among the critics in their take on Divergent: it’s long, bland, and dumb, they say. Other than that, they add, the stars are appealing and girls who loved the novel will love the movie. There are a few notable exceptions to that view. Michael O’Sullivan in the Washington Post writes that director Neil Burger “has crafted a popcorn flick that’s leaner, more propulsive and more satisfying than the bestseller that inspired it.” Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times observes that the film takes no risks, but then, he asks, “Why rock the boat and jeopardize a potentially huge franchise if you don’t really have to?” The film, in the end, he says, succeeds on the chemistry between the two leads, Shailene Woodley and Theo James. “Their engaging performances are money in the bank and make it clear why playing it safe was the smart way to go,” he concludes. And Steven Rea in the Philadelphia Inquirer calls the movie “sure-footed, suspenseful, and sequel ready.” But those reviews are the exceptions. Manohla Dargis in the New York Times observes that there are things that happen in Veronica Roth’s book that don’t make any sense but the writer’s style makes it “easy to breeze past the plot holes.” However, she remarks, “It’s harder to ignore those flaws in the movie, partly because the director, Neil Burger, gives you little to hang onto … and because someone has made the familiar blunder of thinking that the most important thing in adapting a book to the screen is the stuff that happens rather than to whom it happens.” Likewise, Elizabeth Weitzman in the New York Daily News comments, “The visual palette is so bland, and the logistical gaps so obvious, that it’s hard to see any personal passion for this project.” The film is the latest contribution to dystopiana, but Mick LaSalle in the San Francisco Chronicle maintains, “It takes about 10 minutes to figure out that “Divergent” will not present a serious or intelligent vision of the future. It doesn’t offer a fantasy world so much as a bogus world, lacking in internal logic.” And Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal makes a stab at culling out a few good features of the movie but then concludes, “In all candor, and with all the amity I can muster, Divergent is as dauntingly dumb as it is dauntingly long.”