After hearing so much (both good and bad) about the new YA sensation, Divergent by Veronica Roth, I knew I couldn’t avoid it any longer. After getting the book as a Christmas gift, I put a day aside in January to read it. It wasn’t my favourite book I’ve ever read, but it was entertaining. I ended up not reading the other two books in the series after hearing overwhelmingly negative things about how the series ended. Regardless, I was looking forward to finally seeing the movie.
Let’s just take a minute right off the bat to talk about what a babe Theo James is. He made it super easy to stare at the screen for 2 hours and 20 minutes. Okay, now that I got that out of my system, we can talk about other things.
I thought the casting was really well done. You already know my opinion about Theo James as Four/Tobias. I really liked Shailene Woodley as Beatrice/Tris. Girl is poised to have an absolutely massive year after an excellent 2013. Jai Courtney, who played Eric, was perfection in the role. I was absolutely skeeved out every time he was on screen. Kate Winslet was cold and calculating; everything I wanted from the character of Jeanine. Normally I’m a fan of Miles Teller, but I didn’t love him as Peter. I wanted someone who looked a little more clean-cut, but acted much dirtier. Maybe it’s because his face is so adorable that I just didn’t believe him as the bully.
I don’t think it was all Miles’ doing that I didn’t see him as much of a bully, I think a lot of Peter’s crueler moments were left out. I think to the casual viewer, they wouldn’t even realize that Peter was part of the attack on Tris. We were also left without much of the backstory between Tris and Al, and how close of friends they were. This left the fact that he was part of the attack less impactful. It also made it unclear why Al was so deeply affected by Tris’ decision to cut him out of her life. While we are still talking about the attack, I think that cutting out the sexual assault element of the attack took away a certain depth from the movie. This depth would have been felt not only in the relationship between Tris and Al, but also the heightened tension between Tris and Peter, and her struggle with the decision to essentially spare his life at the end of the movie. It would have also further explained the element of intimacy in Tris’ fear-scape. I understand the need to cut things in order to fit within a certain time-constraint, or the need to fit within a certain rating to make it available to a wider audience, but I think it would have been a compelling sub-plot that would have driven the character development further.
I wanted to see more character development from certain people, especially Caleb and Ed. There was never a point where we were told why Caleb switched factions, nor any sort of monologue of it clicking to Tris that maybe that is where Caleb did belong. It’s hard to translate a passage of narration that is told in first-person to the screen where there is little voice-over narration, so I understand why it was left out. I would have also liked to have seen something showing a personal friendship between Tris and Ed that conveyed why it was so difficult to kill him. I did however love the relationship between Tris and Christina, played by Zoe Kravitz. It was a warm, supportive, compelling relationship that I was happy to see on screen.
I really appreciated the pacing of the movie. I thought the book moved a little slowly in some parts, especially in training. The movie was able to show these parts, but without spending too much time on them. A 2 hour and 20 minute film seems long, but there wasn’t any point where I was checking my watch to see when it was going to be over.
Another really strong point was the set and setting. The Abnegation houses weren’t as I pictured, but I thought they were better than what I had in mind. The dark, monotone houses really showed the spirit of the faction. The Dauntless headquarters was less industrial than I was expecting, but I still liked it. The Erudite headquarters was really fantastic and exactly what you would expect from it.
I wasn’t completely blown away by the film, nor did I hate it, which is similar to my feelings about the book. Going to see it was a good way to kill a Thursday night, especially when I had a free movie coupon (SCORE). Don’t go see this movie if you are expecting a similar product to the Hunger Games. They’re not comparable. The only things they have in common are a strong, female lead-character, and a post-apocalyptic, dystopian setting. Do go see this movie if you like an action-packed, suspenseful movie based on a popular book. It’s not a movie just for teenage girls.
I’ll give this movie a rating of ‘Not as great as the Hunger Games, but definitely WAY better than Twilight’