That said, seems relentlessly positive for teenagers to imagine themselves into a role where their intelligence and empathy and courage and honesty and peacefulness might bring about justice for the oppressed.
One other plot point seems worth mentioning here: those raised in Abnegation are expected to always think of others, rather than themselves. And so they also are raised to avoid mirrors, to not think about themselves, to not think about their own talents and skills and strengths.
The movie uses this to develop Tris's character, as she looks at herself more and more as she comes into her own. As I watched, I thought this may especially ring true to many Christian teenage (or formerly teenage) girls who, like me, were raised in a culture that encouraged them to ignore their looks—and, to a large extent, their gifts, if they didn't fit a mold.
Of course, caring for others is at the heart of Christianity. But so is standing up for the truth, being wise, exercising courage, and fostering peace. There's something to Four's idea that he'd like to be all of those things—and something dangerous and even sinister when, in our zeal to help people discover their "unique" gifts and talents and personalities, we ignore the fact that it's just those things we're not naturally good at that we ought to work at.
But back to the movie: Divergent is worth watching, if only to see our next Hollywood princess in action, and because it taps into something we're feeling these days. It's worth watching as another warning against social engineering and fascism. And it's worth watching because, on the whole, teenagers (and former teenagers) need stories that call them to bravery and intelligence and peace and honesty and service to others, and we can be glad this is yet another.
One thing that Divergent may have over Hunger Games for many audiences, particularly CT readers, is that it's simply not as dark. It is apparently far less violent thant its source material, and there's no equivalent of the Panem arena. The teenagers do have to confront their fears, which are fairly conventional—birds, drowning, heights, wolves, even having to shoot an innocent person—but two fears may be triggers for some viewers: rape and/or objectified sex (we see nothing graphic, but clearly know what the fear is) and physical parental abuse.
Tris tells Four that she "doesn't want to take things too fast" when they first kiss, and he readily assents, agreeing to sleep on the floor while she sleeps in his bed. There is of course violence, and people get shot, including some key adult characters. A character gets stabbed through the hand with a knife. Many people get beat up in hand-to-hand combat. There are intimations of genocide. Profanity is kept to an almost unnoticeable minimum. Teenage boys and girls live in the same dormitory, but that's all we see or know.
My only real fear is that teenagers may miss the overall menacing nature of the kind of controlling society that Divergent faces us with, which is up to parents and wise teens to discern and discuss.
Alissa Wilkinson is Christianity Today's chief film critic and assistant professor of English and humanities at The King's College. She tweets at @alissamarie.