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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The lead character deals with important issues about identity and finding her place in a controlling society. Tris and Four struggle with what it really means to be selfless, brave, smart, and kind, as they explore trusting their own beliefs rather than those imposed by the separatist government.
Positive Role Models
Tris sometimes doubts herself but taps into her courage and ingrained selflessness to protect others even when she doesn't realize it, like when she stands up for Al and takes a punishment for him. Four encourages Tris to use her upbringing's focus on selflessness to be even more courageous. Tris and Four offer a positive example of a teen relationship; they treat each other as equals, defend and protect each other, and go slow with their romance.
Violence & Scariness
There is a less violence in the movie than in the book, but it's still a violent story. Several characters are shot at, injured, or killed including beloved parents. Teen siblings are orphaned by the end of the movie. The Dauntless faction of brave risk takers requires a brutal initiation that includes several scenes of bloody hand-to-hand combat (until someone can't get up any more), knife-throwing, marksmanship, and more. Characters are routinely sparring and injuring one another -- or entering fear simulations to deal with their greatest fears, whether it's wild animals, confined spaces, drowning, etc. A character commits suicide and his dead body is briefly shown. Three masked guys grab Tris, beat her up and nearly throw her to her death. Christina is forced to hang off of a ledge for a certain amount of time to atone for her cowardice. During a climactic sequence, drugged soldiers shoot and kill unarmed citizens.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
In addition to a few longing looks, just one long passionate kiss (with the guy shirtless), and some heartfelt embraces. During a fear simulation, Tris imagines Four kissing her on a bed and trying to convince her to have sex before she's ready, but she defends herself.
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A couple of uses of "bitch," "s--t," and "a--hole." Other insults include "Stiff," "coward," "stupid," "loudmouth."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
In one scene it looks like some of the Dauntless are drinking, but it's not clear.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Divergent is the first adaptation of author Veronica Roth's best-selling dystopian trilogy. Set in a future Chicago, the movie is slightly less violent than the book but still depicts the brutal world of a post-apocalyptic society divided into factions or groups. People are killed, orphaned, injured, and thoroughly beat up in bloody hand-to-hand combat (including guy-on-girl fist fights), violent bullying, an armed occupation, and mass killings of unarmed people. There's a central romance, but it remains fairly chaste -- only some longing looks, embraces and one extended, passionate kiss. The movie features a brave, vulnerable, and fierce female main character. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The movie adaptation of the popular YA series benefits from a talented cast, a spot-on visual depiction of the factions, the Dauntless Pit, and the story's urban Chicago setting. The acting ensemble is as good as the cast of The Hunger Games and vastly superior to that of Twilight and the forgettable Vampire Academy and Mortal Instruments adaptations. While Woodley doesn't fit the canon description of Tris, she captures the character's mix of vulnerability and courage, her desire to be independent in a world that demands conformity. And although heartthrob Theo James is almost too manly looking for Woodley's doe-eyed ingenue, he definitely gets the job done as the intensely serious Four.
But the movie doesn't live up to the hype or the potential of the written series. The Dauntless initiation process isn't as violent or emotional on the screen as it is on the page, and neither is the buildup of the Tris and Four romance or Tris' friendship with her fellow transfer initiates. Considering the two-and-a-half-hour runtime, there are parts that drag on and yet aspects of the book that seem surprisingly cut. The performances (Winslet is fabulous as the icy Erudite leader, and Zoe Kravitz, Maggie Q, and Jai Courtney are all true to the spirit of their characters) make up for some of the pacing and screenwriting issues, but overall this adaptation falls short of fan expectations. Still, tweens and teens who've read the books should absolutely see the movies and hope the second and third installments fare better.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.