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'Divergent' Reviews: Critics Blast Sci-Fi Thriller as 'Underwhelming'

By Michael Mullins   |   Friday, 21 Mar 2014 09:22 AM

"Divergent" movie reviews are casting a disappointing shadow on the recently released science fiction film, with critics mostly taking the movie to task for its overall adaptation of the successful novel on which it is based.

"Divergent," which hits theaters Friday, stars Kate Winslet, Ashley Judd, Shailene Woodley, and Theo James among others, and is set in a futuristic Chicago where society is divided between personality-types in a dystopian post-apocalyptic world, CBS News noted.

The two hour-plus movie is based on Veronica Roth's book of the same name and was co-distributed by Lionsgate, the same production company responsible for the wildly successful film series "The Hunger Games."

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As of Friday morning, the movie review website RottenTomatoes.com, reports that just 38 percent of critics who reviewed the film gave it a positive rating.

A reason for that disappointing rating is due in large part to reviews like that of the New York Post's Lou Leminick, who wrote, "'Divergent' is a clumsy, humorless and shamelessly derivative sci-fi thriller set in a generically dystopian future."

"It's impossible to ignore the overwhelming sense that we've seen all this before, only with better execution," Time's Mike Ryan added; while Variety's Andrew Barker described the movie as "underwhelming," with a "bloated plot [and] drab visual style."

Of course not all the reviews were negative, as CBS News points out in its review roundup of the movie, especially in regards to the acting.

"Woodley has a scratchy little voice and a way of clamping her eyes on her scene partners as if they might catch fire if she looked away," Seattle Times' Moira Macdonald writes in her review. "She also has that rare quality of utter likability . . . Without her, 'Divergent' would be a grim slog indeed."

"James is the best thing in 'Divergent,'" Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune writes. "Imagine the pain and suffering this film might've inflicted with Taylor Lautner of 'Twilight' in the male-lust-object role, and you especially appreciate James' wry, offhanded charisma."

In typical New York Times fashion, movie critic Manohla Dargis decided to focus on the film's political undertones while canning the movie itself, writing in her review, "Yea for 'Divergent,' a dumb movie that I hope makes major bank if only as a reminder of the obvious: Women can drive big and little movies, including the pricey franchises that fire up the box office and the culture."

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