The early trade reviews of the film adaptation of Veronica Roth’s Divergent have not offered a warm welcome. The consumer reviews began pouring in yesterday and the story is the same. According to Rotten Tomatoes, the film now has just a 38% positive rating (and even some of those “positive” reviews damn with faint praise; “Hey, we gotta kill time between Hunger Games installments somehow. Why not Divergent?” The Dallas Morning Herald).
Box office predictors, like Ray Subers of Box Office Mojo, tell USA Today, “Divergent won’t be the next Hunger Games, but it could be the next Twilight.”
If it succeeds at the box office, the secret will not only lie in the movie’s heavy marketing, but in an element acknowledged in even the most rotten reviews; the chemistry between the two leads. As People magazine (which gives it 3 of 4 stars) puts it, while Divergent “isn’t as emotionally engaging as Games, its leads could give Katniss and Peeta serious chemistry lessons … The slow burn between these two is the best thing about the film.”
Reminder: the male lead, Theo James, played the Turkish ambassador on Downton Abbey, the man who successfully melted Lady Mary’s frosty exterior (and paid dearly for it).
There is one straight out rave review, however. The Washington Post‘s Michael O’Sullivan says “director Neil Burger (Limitless) has crafted a popcorn flick that’s leaner, more propulsive and more satisfying than the bestseller that inspired it … [The] Screenwriters … have even come up with an ending that more cleverly utilizes the story’s teenage heroine Tris (Shailene Woodley) without changing the outcome.”
The film is already a raging success by one indicator. All three of the books in the trilogy occupy the top spots on USA Today‘s best seller list.