'Divergent' not that great but Woodley shines

Sandy Kenyon previews the two newest releases.
March 21, 2014 1:52:52 PM PDT
Shailene Woodley found fame on ABC Family's series "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" and earned a Golden Globe nomination as one of "The Descendants" opposite its star George Clooney, but her new movie opening today is her bid for super-stardom.

If you were hoping the new film "Divergent" would be as compelling as "Twilight" or "The Hunger Games," you're going to be disappointed, but the fault lies not with its star but with her character's lengthy explanations.

After a war a century ago, society has been divided into factions named for the qualities of their members. The erudite are smart, those in candor can't lie and so on. All teens are tested to help determine where they belong and the trouble begins for Shailene's character when her results are inconclusive.

Those who are "divergent," are despised for their independence and hunted down. So she joins the "dauntless" crew, which polices the city.

There's a lukewarm romance with one of its leaders, then lots of descriptions masquerading as dialogue delivered by Theo James, Ashley Judd as Woodley's character's mom, and Kate Winslet as the bad gal. That's mainly for those of us who didn't read the books that inspired the film so we know what's going on.

But the rules of this game are so complex that we never get as as involved as we did during the best of "Twilight" and "The Hunger Games." "Divergent" simply isn't as good as those films, but I was never bored and I continue to believe that Woodley is tomorrow's star here today.