The Harry Potter films were some of favorites to come out in the last ten years. I was way late reading the series and didn't pick the books up until the fourth movie had come out but I consumed it all and am not afraid to admit that I cried at the final moments. However, I'm starting to hate them but not for anything that they did on purpose. The unprecedented success of those films opened up Pandora's Box and Hollywood has set out to feast on every single Young Adult novel series that's out there. I'm starting to think that the books don't even have to be good or successful for Hollywood monsters to gobble the rights to them up whole. Divergent is the latest and it might be the swan song for the trend.
I have not read the book series for which Divergent is based on. After seeing the movie, I don't want to either. I'm not quite sure I made any sense out of the story. The film takes place in the future where, after a large war, the last survivors are placed into five different vocations based on their natural traits that decide everything about your life, yet you can still choose which group you want to be in. Divergents are people who don't have a distinct trait and don't fit in anywhere. They, for some reason, are a threat to the whole system. This is never really explained why and because of that, the motivations for every character in the story seems pointless and unclear.
Even if Divergent didn't have a murky plot, it's grotesquely unoriginal. Every Young Adult novel that was turned into a movie in the last ten years can be found here; such as Harry Potter (they're divided up into groups/houses based on a test), Hunger Games (it's post-apocalyptic), Twilight (there's a love story), Ender's Game (80% of the film is a sci-fi basic training) even Diary of a Wimpy Kid (it's all about not fitting in). I understand that some people enjoy seeing the same thing over and over again but not me. When I watch something new and it feels like I've seen it before (let alone many times over), I get mad that a studio would try to take advantage of people that way.
The performances in Divergent are good. Shailene Woodley (The Decendents, The Spectacular Now) shows leading ladies in other Young Adult films how it's done with some scenes that, given the target audience, is pretty intense. Jai Courtney (Jack Reacher, A Good Day to Die Hard) and Miles Teller (That Awkward Moment, 21 & Over) play decent-enough baddies but Kate Winslet, who should be the shining star in this, proves that she's really good at phoning in a villainous performance.
Of course Divergent will make tons of money since it already has legions of screaming fangirls clammering to be first in line. But if The Mortal Instruments and Percy Jackson has taught us anything it's that you can whip up the masses into a pre-release frenzy but if you don't produce something that lives up to their expectations, you'll see that passion die out quickly. If director Neil Burger (The Illusionist, Limitless) thinks the way to do that is hit these girls with a movie that's over 2-and-a-half hours long that drags like no other and confuses those desperately trying to make sense of it all, he may not be back for the rest of the series.
They've already announced that Neil Burger will not be directing the next movies. Robert Schwentke was announced as the director for the next installment, Insurgent. Not sure how that's going to go though.