Movie: 2.5 stars
I know a movie (by nature) is going to be different than a book -- but in this case the movie is a disappointment for fans of the book. It feels like an abridged summary of the book (typical of book-to-movie conversion), but then there are so many movie elements that are *ahem divergent from the book that it constantly irritates.
On strictly the merits of the movie, it lacks emotional depth and we don't connect with the characters. The motives behind their actions are not explored enough, leaving caricatures in its wake. You never feel the tension and dread of going through the Dauntless training - it all feels kinda like a typical boot camp with the standard players. In the abbreviated time frame of the movie, there is little time for growth into "fighting machines" and Tris is not believable as a warrior-type ever.
I like some of the casting, and the opening scenes with the Dauntless making their entrance is exhilarating. However, the Movie Tris just looks pretty & cries a lot, and doesn't project that intensely brave, determined 16-year old that overcomes the odds stacked against her. Her true Dauntless mindset is mostly AWOL (to continue within the military mindset) from the movie.
It's a hard job to convert a book where much of the story comes from the internal thoughts of each character. It all has to be projected through the eyes, the emotions and the limited on-screen actions you can show. The casting wasn't bad, but whether the movie script was poor, or the acting choices were just not done well... it never achieves more than today's typical sci-fi YA movie.