Family Movie Review: Divergent

In anticipation of the release of Insurgent, the second film adapted from the Divergent series by Veronica Roth, I watched the Divergent film again.  I was introduced to the series when my then sixth grade son started reading it. He made it through the first two novels. I read all three, but by the time I got to Allegiant, the third novel in the series, I was a bit over it all as well. 

Shailene Woodley and Theo James star in this action-packed film. 

After watching the film again this week, I came to a few conclusions.  First, filmmakers did a great job of adapting the book into a movie and, second, it's a pretty darn good movie. BUT, as a "young adult" fiction series, is it right for your pre-teen?  

The answer is - probably not.  The story itself deals with concepts that younger children won't understand, and frankly, shouldn't be exposed to.  For example, there is quite a bit of graphic violence including a suicide and execution style homicides.  There is also much implied violence that filmmakers spare us from seeing, but it's effective nonetheless.  

Along the lines of The Hunger Games trilogy and The Maze Runner series, Divergent takes place in futuristic Chicago after humans all but completely destroy the planet - no surprise! The dystopian society is run in such a manner as to keep the people controlled and, therefore, powerless to ever resist authority. If they can't conform, they are a threat. And,while this is a very bleak look into our future, the overall implications will be too great for younger viewers to comprehend.  

If your middle-schooler is mature enough to read the novel, then she is old enough to see the film. However, read and watch along with her.

The biggest problem I had with the film - BEFORE I even saw it - was with the casting.  But, anytime a book is adapted to the big screen you run this risk as actors aren't always how readers imagined the characters. I was so disappointed in the casting of Shailene Woodley as our protagonist, Tris, that it threatened the likability of her character. And, Theo James as Tobias "Four" Eaton just couldn't pass as 19 years old - sorry! 

But, with that said, I will admit that Woodley's performance happily surprised me and James DID make the perfect Four. But, still, together, they just didn't jive.  Overall, none of the performances were riveting including those of Ashley Judd and Kate Winslet.   

No, what makes this film worth watching is the non-stop action and thematic story line.  If you can take yet another series about the ill-fate of our world, then this film is definitely worth seeing. It is much better than The Maze Runner, but not close to the caliber of The Hunger Games.  I am looking forward to seeing the sequel, Insurgent, in theaters now. 

The film is rated PG-13 for intense violence and action, thematic elements and some sensuality. 

For more of my Family Movie Reviews click here.


  1. Great Review, I have the movie on my DVR I just have to watch it. I always feel you do such a good job at reviews Nikki! Well put together and you speak your mind. I have to say when I do mine I try to mirror yours :)

    1. Thanks for reading and for your lovely compliment! Due to scheduling (aka life) I haven't seen the sequel yet, but think Divergent is worth you checking out.

  2. Great review. I loved the movie, my partner hated it so I'm glad I seem to be in the majority! I didn't knpow "Four was supposed to be 19! Haha he definitely didn't pull that off! If your middle-schooler is mature enough to read the novel, then she is old enough to see the film. However, read and watch along with her. Best advice I ever heard.

    1. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I haven't seen Insurgent yet, but heard it wasn't as good.


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