Hello all, I’m soooo sorry I haven’t been up in (more than) a month. Recently, a rather large English paper was due, and that took up a lot of my time, but now I’m done and I’m on Spring Break. I’m planning on finishing editing my story this week.
But enough of that. What did I think of Divergent?
I should preface this: This review will have massive spoilers for both the book and the movie. (No duh)
Overall: 4/5 stars
As an adaption, it was very good, and very close to its source material. I picked out lines from the actual book in the dialogue, and characters were (for the most part) pretty much as I saw them in my head. If you come into this movie knowing nothing about the plot of Divergent, then it might be a bit confusing, but the movie explains the basics right away, so I don’t believe you will be too lost.
The characters were interesting and convincing, though there were some cliché moments, of course.
The plot suffered a bit from the transition from novel medium to movie medium, but it does the best it can, and I don’t think anyone should fault it for that. Did it get some things wrong? Of course. But did it get the gist of the novel and tell it in an interesting way? Yes.
I won’t say too much as to the setting except it was well done, capturing the dystopian Chicago landscape quite nicely.
My main beef with the characterization comes from Shailene Woodley, who played Beatrice/Tris. Now, she is a phenomenal actress and shows very good emotions. I’m surprised she’s not in more movies, but that’s not my problem.
She’s too big.
Not, like, fat, or anything, but the reason Tris is supposed to be underestimated all the time is because she’s very small. She calls herself “childish” in stature, and that’s how I expected her to be portrayed in the movie. Unfortunately, the casting directors decided that Shailene should get the part. If she was smaller, then yes, she would be the perfect.
As it is, I was very impressed with Shailene’s acting, especially when Tris’s mother died. I don’t think I’ve ever cried as hard as that in a movie theater.
Tobias/Four is your typical teenage action/adventure/romance male protagonist: great fighter, quiet but dangerous, and (relatively) fearless. He’s portrayed pretty well, but again, in the book, he’s portrayed as taller and skinny. I feel awful for saying that, but Theo has the wrong physique. He’s muscular and quite attractive, but he would do a bit better as Eric. Give him piercings up to wazoo, and I would believe that he was Eric. But I had a little trouble identifying him as Four. His acting was pretty good, and I didn’t notice anything particularly wrong with it.
Jeanine looks quite close to what I had envisioned her looking like. The first time I saw her, I nearly squealed. She’s cold, businesslike, and calculating, and she looks the part. Plus, she’s played by Kate Winslet. I mean, come on. Her acting is superb, and I can see her mind working through every bit of data. She’s practically more machine than (wo)man. I was very happy with this character.
Caleb is one of the side characters that deserves a round of applause. He brings up this score, saving it from a 3-3.5 just by being great. Maybe this is my teenage hormonal side talking, but he was very adorable, just like the books portrayed him. He had short-ish curly hair, a tall, slightly lean physique, and the perfect attitude as a transfer from Abnegation to Erudite.
The rest of the side characters were pretty good, ranging from good to great. I enjoyed the interplay of all of the characters, and it all seemed believable.
I’m not going to fault this movie for having to conform to an already-set plot line, since it did so pretty well. Still, there were some things that I just have to bring up.
The definition of Divergent changed pretty drastically, and that’s the whole point of the series. In the novel, Divergents realize when they’re in simulations, and can change the simulation(s) to fit their will. In the movie Divergents are people who…don’t…conform?-ish? It’s not very well stated, and doesn’t really explain why Tris finishes her simulations so much quicker than the others. In the novel, she changes the simulations consciously, while in the movie, she finishes them so quickly because…because? It’s not very well explained.
People who read the book before will understand what has happened, but the point of a movie is to introduce people to the fandom who don’t want to/have the time to read a long book. It’s not good enough to say, “Just read the book and it’ll make sense.” You have to fully explain. The people who have already read the book may be like, “Of course I know what a Divergent is. Why are you telling me this?” but this movie is meant to be separate from the novel.
The other main point is the reason that the survivors from Dauntless’ invasion go to Amity. In the novel, the reason the group goes to Amity is to bring Amity’s leaders the program that Erudite developed on a USB drive sort of thing. Then Insurgent is all about the reaction to the program. In the movie, Tris forces Jeanine to delete the whole program, thus nulling any proof that Tris had. If this becomes a plot point in the next movie, I might forgive it, but until then, I’m going to deduct points.
At the beginning of the movie, the camera pans over the dystopian city of Chicago, and I really got a view of the age of the city. The Dauntless compound is really well done, with the Pit and the cavern. The Erudite headquarters is practically a library, which is perfect, and the Abnegation houses are all as described in the novel.
Overall, nothing to complain about.
Personal Enjoyment: 4.5/5
I tend to enjoy most movies, and this one was no different. Some of the plot development/characters distracted me a bit, but the overall story was very faithful to the original novel, so I did enjoy it.
I recommend that you go see it in theaters if you really want to see it. If you’re the type who’s more critical of movies, especially the slightly overused concept of teenage dystopian fiction, then it’s definitely worth at least a rent from Redbox or Netflix when it becomes available.
BOOK RECOMMENDATION ALERT!
I recently finished The Runaway King, the second book in the Ascendence trilogy, the first being The False Prince, which I raved on and on about.
This, too, is worth a read. Sage keeps his wit as Jaron, and, although the plot is a bit confusing and seems a bit slow at times, I never really thought it was bad. I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next book in Mrs. Neilsen’s series, The Shadow Throne. It was only published last month, but it already is well-rated on goodreads.com.
P.s, while I’m at it, I might as well recommend Veronica Roth’s series, Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant. I can’t say much about Allegiant, since I (unfortunately) have not been able to read it yet due to forces beyond my control *coughcoughSupernatualcoughcough*. I plan to remedy that very soon. But Divergent and Insurgent are both very good books in their own right. I remember Insurgent wasn’t as good as the Divergent, but it was still a very good book, worth checking out at the library, at least.
That’s all for today. I hope you all are having a good day!